A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Makes political commentary about people in power who use their power only to stay in power vs. other figures who believe in helping others. Draws a fairly clear line between the two, but then violence and sensationalism are used to get to the "truth."
Positive Role Models
Travis Block always tries to do the right thing, even though he sometimes doesn't succeed. He's led a violent life and has run away from mistakes. But he still tries. Mira Jones is a reporter who's determined to get to the truth and help people, but her journalism skills are a little lacking (she doesn't seem to care about facts or sources).
Lead character Travis Block is a White man. Supporting character Mira Jones, a journalist, is a strong, independent woman of color who's devoted to trying to make the world a better place. Other women appear in positions of power, including a Latino politician (who is, unfortunately, killed early on). Main character sometimes demonstrates OCD-like symptoms. Some body-type diversity.
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Violence & Scariness
Deaths. Lots of guns and shooting (and missing). Gun held to head. Grenade launcher used. Angry, threatening mob with guns. Person hit and killed by car. Bloody wounds. People are electrocuted. Neck-snapping sound. Fighting, punching, kicking, choking. Car chases, crashes. Explosions. Fall from high place. Knife-wielding. Dialogue about a woman being beaten up and potentially raped.
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Uses of "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," "damn," "hell," "crap." "Jesus" as an exclamation. Someone says "effing."
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Products & Purchases
Several bottles of Bud Light seen in refrigerator. Prominently displayed Starbucks bag. Twitter mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character pops pills and drinks from a flask. Characters sip whiskey in a bar and in the FBI director's office. Main character drinks a beer at home. Glass of wine at home. Mention of cocaine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Blacklight is an action thriller about an FBI operative (Liam Neeson) who finds out about a secret, deadly operation within the bureau and tries to expose it. It starts promisingly but quickly gets tired and generic. Violence is strong but largely bloodless, with guns and shooting, deaths, explosions, car chases and crashes, minor bloody wounds, fighting, punching, kicking, and choking, villains being electrocuted, a neck-snapping sound, and some dialogue about violence toward women. Language includes a few uses of "s--t," plus "bitch," "a--hole," etc. Characters casually drink beer, wine, and whiskey either at home or with others. A character pops some pills and drinks from a flask. Sex isn't an issue. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
There are hints that an earlier draft of the screenplay might once have had some cutting political commentary, but this action movie has been smoothed out so much that it's shopworn and generic. Directed by Mark Williams, who also made the more fleet-footed Honest Thief with Neeson, Blacklight begins with two promising sequences. In one, Travis must rescue an agent who's been stuck undercover in a community of racists; she has been found out, and an angry, gun-toting mob tries to storm her trailer. She tearfully tells Travis that the pressure just got to her, and she slipped up. It would have been interesting to learn more about this story, but we never hear from her again. Then we're treated to a speech by progressive politician Sofia Flores (Mel Jarnson) shaming the wealthy for hoarding and urging health care for all.
It's easy to guess that Flores is modeled after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and that she's considered a threat to the establishment. Unfortunately, she also disappears from the story quickly, and when she does, Blacklight simply becomes a series of tense dialogue exchanges (much of it expositional), shoot-outs, and chases, none of which feel very inspired or exciting. Mira is a reporter who doesn't seem interested in investigating or checking facts; she only wants to write her big story because "it's obvious." Even poor Neeson seems out of gas in this one. When he warns the villain, "you're gonna need more men," it doesn't pack half the punch of his best action-hero line deliveries. At the end, Travis is left to babysit his granddaughter -- which, frankly, might have made a more interesting movie than this one.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.