REVIEW: ‘The Marksman’ never hits the bullseye

When I saw Liam Neeson on the big screen fighting a mob in France back in 2009 during my first year reviewing and second year in college, I didn’t know I’d be spending a decade watching him battle all kinds of things.

He’s fought wolves, been an agent in Germany, he took on terrorists as an air marshal, and now all this time later, he’s fighting against a Mexican cartel.

In “The Marksman,” Neeson portrays Jim, a former Marine and rancher who owns property along the Mexican border in Arizona. Because of where his land is, Jim has a radio with him to call the U.S. Border Patrol in case there are crossings. Meanwhile, in Mexico, a young woman and her son are sent on the run from a cartel because her cousin double crossed them.

Her and her boy, Miguel (Jacob Perez), make it across the border, but the cartel quickly catches up, right as they make it across a fence. At the same time, Jim just happens to be there ranching his land. A firefight ensues and the woman passes away, asking Jim to take care of Miguel and get him to Chicago where the rest of their family lives. While reluctant, Jim decides to take on the task and try to make his way to the Windy City with the boy. However, the cartel remains committed to finding both of them.

“The Marksman” has a really great, although too short, final battle sequence that’s really satisfying to watch. It’s one of a few moments that does keep an audience on the edge of their seat. The process in getting there, though, isn’t all that good.

This movie goes down a very generic path, and it doesn’t really have the dialogue or action to truly overcome this issue. Jim speaking about being a widow, and finding a reason to carry on because of the kid he’s protecting is all typical stuff, and as an audience, it just feels like we’re going through the expected motions to get to the finale.

Somewhat salvaging the feature is the cast. Yes, Neeson has been doing a lot of these action thrillers lately but he makes the part work. His portrayal of his character’s growing compassion and protectiveness of Miguel is at least endearing.

Courtesy Open Roads Films

Perez is also fine as Miguel. Not only does the young actor capable, the character is written competently, which is a plus when it comes to younger protagonists in this situation.

The same can’t be said for the villains, though. “The Marksman” features the most cookie-cutter type of bad guys, with the lead villain having no real personality. He just stalks around with no identity other than being bald and wearing a black jacket so viewers know he’s extra bad.

As previously stated, though, the action is pretty solid. Whether its Jim having to navigate a situation to get Miguel to safety, to him putting his firearm skills to the test in battles, “The Marksman” delivers on some goods. The final stand is especially enjoyable.

While it gets some action and the protagonists right, “The Marksman” doesn’t set itself apart enough to be a movie to rush out and see. This is one to wait for until it’s more available on streaming or just showing on TV. 2.6 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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