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Blacklight Review | Liam Neeson Doing Liam Neeson Things



Who would’ve thought that a movie about a father trying to rescue his daughter who was kidnapped following U2 on tour (that poor girl!) would begin one of the best second acts in an actors’ career? It almost feels like an event in the first quarter of every year when a new Liam Neeson action-thriller graces the screen. There have been some great ones (I’m a big advocate of Non-Stop), and some forgettable ones (A Walk Among The Tombstones), but the one thing that cannot be denied is that Liam Neeson still kicks any and every ass in his way; even at 69 years old. Enter Blacklight, which is beginning to show Neeson’s age. I’ll admit, I missed The Ice Road, but I do remember there being some physical limitations in last year’s The Marksman. But what Neeson couldn’t do physically was compensated in the form of an endearing story about the bond between Neeson’s character and the young boy he is helping escape the cartel. Unfortunately, Blacklight has a lack of interesting characters outside of Neeson and plays more like a part-Liam Neeson action movie and part-90s political thriller, with the sum of the parts not equaling a great action movie.

Blacklight follows Travis Block (Liam Neeson), an FBI operative who gets entwined in a government conspiracy.

Liam Neeson in Blacklight. Photo courtesy of Briarcliff Entertainment and Open Road Films.

Now, with a synopsis like that, no one should be expecting great cinema from Blacklight. It’s a story that involves the usual tropes of the genre: Travis is roped back into his duties (which he generally follows blindly); Travis’ family life is a mess, including an estranged daughter and a granddaughter who is the light in his life; a conspiracy theorist, Dusty, (Talyor John Smith) who is made out to be a martyr of sorts; and a journalist who is divided between honest reporting and getting the headlines.

Blacklight is directed by Mark Williams, who directed one of the other Liam Neeson-led Open Road Films-Briarcliff Entertainment collaborations, Honest Thief, which was certainly not one of the brighter spots in Neeson’s filmography, but credit is due to the premise if nothing else. Having Neeson being framed while just trying to keep his nose clean was a cool twist, and some level of star power behind Neeson: Anthony Ramos, Jai Courtney, Kate Walsh, Robert Patrick.

Williams takes a film like Blacklight about as far as you can, but stylistic choices such as plenty of zoom-ins (that I think are supposed to represent a character having a flashback or regaining some locked-away memory). The zoom-ins are worse in action scenes where it feels more like a cutscene in an RPG video game than a movie.

The action, which is 98% of why people see these movies, is lackluster at best. I mentioned Neeson’s age beginning to show, and it’s most evident in foot chases, where the characters being chased have to be slowed down by nameless characters (e.g. security guards) while Neeson catches up off-screen, and fistfights. Neeson can still deliver believable left and rights, but there’s a point where a character has Travis on the ropes, holding his arm up while pinning him to the ground. If you really wanted to stop Travis from continuing to pursue you, kick that arm and it’s broken. Instead, that character just kicks him in the body and continues to run off. This is not advocating for Neeson to get his arm broken in a movie, and maybe the pulled-back nature of the action is due to one of three things: the PG-13 rating, Neeson’s age, or Neeson having some clause in his contract that exempts him from taking that sort of punishment a la Vin Diesel and The Rock’s F&F contracts that stipulated that each actor had even punches or whatever the case was. Either way, the action (thankfully) didn’t feature any of the ridiculous quick edits that you’d see in either of the Taken sequels (maybe even the first, I don’t remember it being as egregious) where you wouldn’t see the action taking place, you’d hear whiffs of punches, grunting, and eventually, someone would hit the ground. Mercifully, that is not the case in Blacklight, but you just get action scenes that Neeson’s character in Unknown would remember.

But Neeson’s characters have also evolved. They went from just kicking your ass to trapping the bad guys inside while locking them in with one of those digital home systems that you can control on your phone and slamming on the brakes so the person in the backseat has a face-to-face interaction with the seat in front of them. It’s what parents do when their kids are fighting in the backseat. No, just me? Moving on…

Exempt from any of the same star power aside from Neeson is Blacklight. Trade Anthony Ramos for Taylor John Smith, whose only remarkable character trait is his eyes that would get him as a model for any cologne he would want. Emmy Raver-Lampman is fine, but her character of Mira gets bogged down in the melodramatic “scoop or be scooped” plot as a journalist. It’s like the film wanted to go with a House of Cards-like plotline, but settled on a plot where Mira hardly gets into any trouble aside from being scooped. Gabriella Sengos — who plays Travis’ granddaughter, Natalie — is another standout but mostly for the fact that she has wholesome interactions with Neeson.

None of that is to say that Neeson has some unique and great performance in Blacklight; hardly the case, but you can always count on him giving you the same type of protagonist that makes him this generation’s Clint Eastwood. When we first meet Travis, he is driving a sports car as if he’s on the way to meet La Familia at the barbeque (that makes two F&F references!). The only thing more amazing than that imagery is the fact that Neeson looks nowhere near 69. The man has aged like a fine wine since the 90s, and it continues to be one of the Wonders of the World.

Blacklight isn’t anything that you haven’t seen if you have watched any of Liam Neeson’s previous action-thrillers from the last decade or In The Line of Fire for that matter, and it stinks that the main plot didn’t put any sort of spin on the Liam Neeson genre like recent entries Non-Stop, Honest Thief and The Marksman did. But luckily, it still feels like there is tread left on Neeson’s action career tires, and let’s hope that like Travis in the film, he won’t hang it up any time soon. We’re reaching the point to just be thankful for Neeson’s willingness and ability to continue churning out action movies once (or recently, twice) a year. Memory, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, The Protégé), is coming later this spring from Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment, who must be big Neeson fans if they keep producing and distributing his movies. Maybe Memory can get the Neeson genre back on track.

Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment will release Blacklight on February 11.


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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Sex Education Season 4 is a Spectacular (and Overstuffed) Conclusion to One of Netflix’s Extraordinary Series



Official posted of 'Sex Education' Season 4 (Netflix)

When the first season of Sex Education came out on Netflix in 2019, it felt pretty daring and exciting for everyone. While there were many shows about teenagers and sex, ‘Sex Education’ stood out because it talked about these topics openly and covered them in a pretty detailed manner. Without any guesses, the show became really popular and is now considered a classic on Netflix. For 3 long seasons, viewers have seen students of Moordale, and everyone around them, dealing with a lot of complications, but now, it’s time to say goodbye to some of our character as the Netflix series has returned for its fourth and final edition.

At the end of Season 3, Moordale Secondary School closed down. This means that Otis, Eric, Aimee, Jackson, Vivienne, Cal, and Ruby have to go to a new school, Cavendish Sixth Form College. Some of them fit in well, while others struggle. And while Otis tries to focus on his therapy work, he finds out that there are other young people who are experts on relationships and sex in town.

Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn in ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 (Netflix)

One of the strengths of Sex Education is its diverse and inclusive representation. The show shines a light on various sexual orientations, gender identities, and cultural backgrounds, providing a platform for underrepresented voices. Season 4 continues to explore these themes, introducing new characters who add depth and complexity to the narrative. On ghe other hand, the only problem with Season 4 is that there are too many things going on at once. There are so many sub-plots that might distract you at times and make you feel that this story might have looked good if there was another season in pipeline.

Even then, the writing remains sharp and witty, creating relatable and genuine teenage characters who grapple with their own insecurities and desires.

Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong in Sex Education Season 4 (Netflix)

The performances in ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 are consistently strong. Asa Butterfield brings vulnerability and charm to his role as Otis, portraying the character’s growth and maturity. Ncuti Gatwa shines as Eric, capturing both his strength and vulnerability as he navigates new relationships and personal challenges. Emma Mackey delivers a nuanced performance as Maeve, showcasing her character’s intelligence and emotional depth. Mimi Keene is stupendous as well and bring another layer to her character which was so nice to see. Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson does what she is best at: deliver another extraordinary performance.

Emma Mackey as Maeve in Sex Education Season 4. (Netflix)

On the other hand, Aimee Lou Wood continues to mesmerise us with her charm and simplicity. Directors should definitely look at her and give her a leading role soon because she deserves it. Another actor that is surely a star in the making is Anthony Lexa, who portrays Abbi in Season 4. Her performance adds an additional charm to the series and gives a hope to Trans actors that they can too achieve their dreams.

A still from ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 (Netflix)

The final edition tackles difficult topics with sensitivity and care, highlighting the importance of consent, communication, and understanding in relationships. The show’s ability to tackle these issues head-on without becoming preachy is a testament to its thoughtful storytelling.

While the final season of ‘Sex Education’ does have some pacing and narrative issues, the strength of the performances, the thoughtful exploration of important issues, and the show’s commitment to inclusivity make it a satisfying and engaging watch. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to these beloved characters, but the legacy of Sex Education will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the television landscape.

Sex Education Season 4. (L to R) Mimi Keene as Ruby, Asa Butterfield as Otis in Sex Education Season 4 (Netflix)

In conclusion, ‘Sex Education’ Season 4 continues to deliver a standout and boundary-pushing narrative that explores sexuality, identity, and personal growth with humor and sensitivity. Despite some minor flaws, the show remains a shining example of inclusive storytelling and offers a heartfelt farewell to its beloved characters.

Some goodbyes are hard and this is certainly one of them.

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