Watch as Richard reviews three movies in less time than it takes to flag a cab! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the all-star murder mystery “Death on the Nile,” the rom com (heavy on the com) “I Want You Back” and the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight.”
Richard joins host Jim Richards of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson. We’ll also give you the history of a two ingredient Spanish drink that was named after the ugliest man in the village where it was invented!
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including two rom coms for Valtentine’s Day, “I Want You Back” (Amazon) and “Marry Me” (in theatres), the Agatha Christie murder mystery “Death on the Nile” (in Theatres), the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight” (theatres) and the Oscar nominated “Drive My Car” (in theatres).
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson.
At this point, it is just a given that if you are related to Liam Neeson in a movie, you’re likely going to end up in a bad way. Most famously, the “Taken” movies saw his wife and kids get abducted and in “Cold Pursuit” his son was killed by drug dealers.
Neeson and he and his special set of skills are back with the release of “Blacklight,” a kidnapping flick that breathes the same air as the franchise that made him an action star.
The Irish actor plays Travis Block, an “off the books” FBI agent who fixes sticky situations by any means necessary. “Breaking and entering, physical coercion,” he says, “you name it, I’ve probably done it.”
He specializes in rescuing operatives whose covers have been blown but, late in his career, he develops doubts about his life’s work. He wants to be more involved with his granddaughter Natalie’s (Gabriella Sengos) upbringing than he was with his daughter Amanda (Claire van der Boom).
He’s serious about changing his ways, so when his granddaughter Natalie (Gabriella Sengos) asks, “Grandpa, are you a good guy?” he truthfully replies, “I want to be.”
His plan for being a retired grandpa, however, are kicked to the curb when an unstable deep cover agent (Taylor John Smith) goes rogue, and tells Block about a special FBI operation that targets and kills innocent U.S. citizens under the guise of protecting democracy.
“One day you wake up,” he says, “and realize you’re not sure who the good guys are anymore.”
Journalist Mira Jones (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who has been sniffing around the story for some time, fills him in on the details, including a link between the conspiracy and FBI director Gabriel Robinson (Aidan Quinn). “How many have to die for you to look the other way?” she asks.
Looking the other way isn’t an option when Block’s daughter and granddaughter go missing. He suspects Robinson had something to do with their disappearance and vows to do something about it. “If I find out you had anything to do with my granddaughter going missing,” he warns the FBI head honcho, “you’re going to need more men.”
And the plot, such that it is, thickens.
With none of the fun Eurotrash panache of “Taken,” too many movie-of-the-week characters and a plot with all the suspense of a Tim Horton’s commercial, “Blacklist” doesn’t belong on the same shelf with Neeson’s best action flicks. Inert and stodgy, it never gets to lift-off.
Still, there is no denying Neeson’s screen presence. Even in cut rate fare like this he’s watchable. It’s just that he has visited this well too many times. Once again, he’s the tough guy cliché, a loner fighting against impossible odds, using his special set of skills to even scores and, in doing so, invites comparisons to other, better movies.
In 1986 Rob Reiner made one of the all time great movies about being a kid. “Stand By Me” was an exercise in dark edged nostalgia. Twenty years later he’s revisiting the Eisenhower and Kennedy years but leaves the dark stuff behind. “Flipped” is coming-of-age “Rashômon” filtered through “Leave it to Beaver” with a dash of “The Wonder Years” thrown in for good measure.
Set in 1960 the story begins when Bryce and his upwardly mobile family move in across the street from the Bakers and their daughter Juli (Madeline Carroll). It’s love at first sight for six-year-old Julie, who flips for Bryce’s “dazzling eyes.” Of course Bryce wants nothing to do with her; she is, after all, a girl. Juli won’t give up, however, pursuing—some might say stalking—him straight through till grade seven. Bryce does everything he can to dissuade her, until she finally gets the hint, and then, of course he develops a big time crush on her.
Told in a he-said-she-said structure, Juli and Bryce detail the day-to-day developments in their lives from their very different points of view. Much of the film’s humor comes from the discrepancies in the way each of them perceive the way their relationship is going. The back-and-forth is a trick that should get old but somehow, because of the writing but more than that, because of the charm of the young cast.
Reiner has cast extremely well, particularly in the case of Madeline Carroll who plays Juli. It’s a tough role, one that requires the audience to believe that she is wise and articulate beyond her years. We’ve all seen precocious kids on screen before, but the thing that separates her performance from other annoying kid’s performances is the work she does behind her eyes. You can see her working through the complexities of life, trying to figure out relationships and the way the world works. It’s a remarkable and endearing performance that carries much of the movie.
The rest of the cast—Anthony Edwards, Penelope Ann Miller, John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn and Rebecca De Mornay—are effective but none feel irreplaceable in the way that Carroll does.
The he-said-she-said format won’t be for everyone, but the characters, the gentle humor of the script, the performances and the soft nostalgic glow that Reiner dabs on every frame is very appealing.