For almost 15 years, Liam Neeson has converted into a series B brawler, with great success. But Blacklight may mark the end of the fight, as the actor and the recipe that accompany it seem blunt.
The first Taken, which for a time remained the biggest success of a French production on international markets, was simultaneously a shocking surprise, the eruption of a new fashion within US action cinema and a collective hallucination.
A modest and surly production whose credibility of Liam Neeson as a desolder of mother fuckers (even if it owed a lot to the charisma of his interpreter) was essentially the creation of an unknown craftsman, the editor Frédéric Thoraval, who managed, with a science admirable, to use all the tricks at his disposal to transform the actor into a slap machine. A small miracle that he reproduced a few years later with Safe , an uninhibited and shamefully forgotten pearl of burnassery.
Since then, Neeson has capitalized on that initial success, even though he was no longer able in Taken 2 to beat an asthmatic manatee on the racetrack. Worn by clever craftsmen (Jaume Collet-Serra from Non-Stop ) or inspired filmmakers (Joe Carnahan from Le Territoire des loups ), it has become the emblem of this wave of vigilantes in their fifties . A wave that gradually turned into foam, as the directors directing his projects gradually opted for a frank creative rout, while the actor displayed quite openly his disinterest in the direction taken by his career, that Blacklight could finish spraying well.
From its introduction, we are on the coattails of Travis, specializing in the exfiltration of federal agents with charred cover, precisely busy rescuing a professional that a camp of white supremacists would like to see transformed into rougail-sausages. Mechanical cutting, faded photo, the start is rancid like a crouton abandoned under the midday sun, but still we hope that the good Travis unleashes a few well-felt shots. Bad luck, the gentleman is in no mood to fight , and will content himself with blowing up a caravan by turning on the gas, before recovering his colleague in distress. For the fight, we’ll come back.
After this geriatric introduction, the film reveals its distressing program consisting of unrolling all the clichés that have become unshakeable ingredients of the Neesonian recipe: contrite paranoia nuanced by a disinterested but embarrassing love for his family made up of transparent and kidnappable women ; punitive and irrepressible virtue of a hero who has never seen a problem in the dismantling of anonymous people but who is worried that his bosses are too shady… Everything here is mechanical, disembodied. We never feel a semblance of passion or faith in what is told to us. Even when the story manages to free itself from its star, it is to anesthetize us shamelessly.
Evidenced by a whistle-blowing, journalism-based subplot that would make Spotlight look like a punk rant, or even this pursuit, not only flabby and also handicapped by a camera that carefully avoids betraying Neeson’s absence under the cabin . She is doomed to capture the action frozen at ground level and clinging to a license plate.
And when, during the last third, we discover the “army” of assailants promised by the poster, it’s to make fun of watching four pathetic spooks wandering in an Ikea remake of Maman j’ai missed l’avion . You have to see our four sinister extras, stepping into the open in the accommodation of a so-called legend of murder, wading without worry in a flooded kitchen where light fixtures and light bulbs float, to take the pulse of the cosmic idiocy of all.
For a bit, one would come to think that this umpteenth ersatz actioner hardboiled despises his contempt with the enthusiasm of a serial killer slitting grandmothers to better defecate in their trachea. Then, as this resigning purge ends, another hypothesis emerges, darker, more tragic.
At a time when the management of nursing homes is making the headlines of an outraged press, isn’t Liam Neeson trying to send us a message? Could it be that the granitic deboner of bad guys is being held prisoner, in some retirement home, run by a squad of retired mercenaries, demanding that the actor play the same story over and over again? Let’s hope that the artist still has a little juice left, to swing and a few headlines, and get out of this mess.