The Marksman

A near miss

For a guy just a hair’s breadth away from 70, Liam Neeson still has the chops and gravitas to carry an action film. But the sand is running out of the hourglass and we may soon see him in roles as armchair advisor to younger lads. Grizzled and greying, we still love him, root for him, and want him to outwit, outfight, and outgun every bad guy he faces.

In The Marksman, Neeson is rancher Jim Hanson, a Viet Nam decorated Marine living a quiet life in southern Arizona. Along with his trusty hound, he patrols his property daily, which is along the Mexico border. But all’s not well in river city: his wife recently died of cancer, he’s losing his property to the bank, and he drinks a bit too much.

Liam Neeson

He’s also got illegals crossing over into his ranch, which on one particular day, happens to be a mother (Teresa Ruiz) and her tween son, Miguel (Jacob Perez). Things kick into high gear when we learn that mother and son are being hunted by the Mexican cartel. When the boy’s mother is shot, Jim reluctantly agrees to transport Miguel to his relatives in Chicago. At this point, The Marksman evolves into a road trip action film with Jim and the boy managing to stay just a town or highway ahead of the cartel’s crosshairs.

Teresa Ruiz andJ acob Perez

Helmed by Robert Lorenz, the film lacks the usual punch of Taken films. The subject matter is noteworthy. But the storyline is a bit threadbare and predictable. That said, Neeson gives us what we want—Jim using his wit and ‘particular set of skills’ to piss off bad guys and eventually take them out. Unfortunately, Jim’s set of skills is lacking when it comes to computers and using his credit card time and again while on the run. So when our cartel thugs finally catch up to Jim and his charge, he draws on his marksman abilities and some other tricks to prevail.

Juan Pablo Raba

The cartel goons, led by Juan Pablo Raba, bury themselves in the part and follow the uninspired script penned by Lorenz, Chris Charles, and Danny Kravitz. Even Miguel lacks nuance and substance that would make for a more interesting character. Efforts to flesh out Jim’s character fall into stereotype as the depressed widower who drinks too much. And in trying to cast cartels as just plain mean, an unnecessary scene involving Jim’s dog is sure to turn off a few viewers.

Jacob Perez and Liam Neeson

Cinematographer Mark Patten does a good job with sweeping images of the desert. And the editing is tight. Thankfully, the film sidesteps the illegal alien arguments, with Jim grumbling about the failure of politicians to “do something.” He works with border patrol agents, including his stepdaughter, Sarah (Katheryn Winnick) to help keep his property free of illegals, coyotes, and cartel henchmen. But in the end, The Marksman delivers what we want from a Liam Neeson action film—bad guys go down and Liam’s smile turns up.

Katheryn Winnick

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

The Marksman will be available in BLU-RAYTM and DVD on May 11, 2021


Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of film reviews and celebrity interviews for a wide variety of online and print outlets. He has covered red carpet premieres and Comic-Con events for major films and independent releases.