Friday, January 15

The Marksman Review

The Marksman

Dir: Robert Lorenz

Starring: Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, Teresa Ruiz, and Jacob Perez

Runtime: 1 hr 47 min


“The Marksman”, the newest thriller from action tough guy Liam Neeson, is more a road trip film than a shoot ‘em up action movie. Neeson, whose charming attitude and natural leading man swagger can’t be hidden by scraggly facial hair and a cowboy hat, leads this clichéd thriller around every familiar twist and turn.  


A lonesome old man named Jim (Liam Neeson), whose eyes tell the tale of a life lived with a few tragedies, stands in front of his home with an American flag draped across his shoulder. He pleads for more time with a bank executive while looking towards a hilltop where he spread the ashes of his late wife. With a Marine Corps tattoo on his forearm and a rifle slung across his shoulder, this world-weary loner must protect the life of a young undocumented immigrant named Miguel (Jacob Perez), who is fleeing Mexico with a bag of money stolen from a drug cartel.


With so many action stories about loners with a special set of violent skills, it’s beginning to get harder to craft stories from this breed in new and creative ways. Though part of the joy of watching these often bloody and violent films is the simplistic nature and rhythm of a film that wants, simply, to be a repetitive vessel for fight scenes and frequent explosions. 


“The Marksman”, from the outside, may look like it’s trying to be one of these actioners, but it’s only pretending. The story is more concerned with the moral choice that our lead character is making in regards to a promise he made to a mother and the responsibility of transporting a young boy to a safer life. Neeson is consistently good in these quieter, more muted roles; the performance here feels like a Clint Eastwood representation from the “one-final-mission” films that gave the iconic actor late-career depth in the 1990s and 2000s. Eastwood’s image even makes an appearance as a scene from “Hang ‘Em High” plays on the television in a hotel bedroom, Miguel takes a look back at Jim and then looks back at the television with a smile. 


Neeson is assisted by a committed performance from newcomer Jacob Perez, a young boy who looks on the verge of tears most of the film. In a great scene, young Miguel takes Jim’s dog for a walk in a small town. Miguel wanders the streets, over bridges, along busy sidewalks, and for a moment you can see a glimmer of a smile on his face, the reality of his situation comes back and the smile fades. It’s a great, natural moment.


“The Marksman” has its share of nice moments, especially when the film leans into the story of two different people, from different worlds, helping each other heal on a road trip to new destinations. For one of them, the destination is a new home, a new life, and for the other, it’s a goal, a good deed for someone in need. Unfortunately, there is another story taking time away from this good relationship drama and it comes in the form of a drug cartel chasing Miguel and Jim across the country. The motivation for this formulaic angle is completely one dimensional. The bad guys aren’t unique and many times they just wait in their cars for updates on where Miguel and Jim are going next. They are used simply for the action sequences, many of which lack excitement.


“The Marksman” falters when it goes hard into its want for action and suspense, but when the film takes time to build upon the relationship between two unlikely people, allowing an old man and young boy the opportunity to show how much they can learn from one another, the road trip film finds it drama and footing. 


Monte’s Rating

3.00 out of 5.00


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