The Marksman - The Marksman (2021)
The Marksman – 2021

Director Robert Lorenz
Screenplay Robert Lorenz, Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz
Starring Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, Teresa Ruiz

This is the kind of movie one sees when the time is right with one’s schedule and it’s been too long since one has been away from the theater for too long. The films that are out are all the types of film without enough clout to push back or the ones that need to be released to be eligible for the weakest movie year in most of our lifetimes.

Liam Neeson is retired U.S. Marine and widower Jim Hanson. This latter is a role that should fit Neeson if he were a method actor. His own wife passed in 2009, when he was still seen as somewhat legitimate actor and action hero. He was still bow legged and slow, but at least he was younger. Since then, strangely enough, he has become one of the most reliable action performers, His films are all mid-range profitable, so no reason to stop, apparently. Though he’s against the 2nd Amendment, he is constantly portraying someone who proves his points with guns. The irony doesn’t really resonate, because, the movies appeal to the audience he eschews.

Jim Hanson lives on the Arizona / Mexico border in a ranch that had been sold off chunk by chunk. His retirement seems like it is about to be cut short by the bank who sold his loan in some non-specific way that means he has to leave. He looks for work, complains to his step daughter about the government needing to figure out the border, drinks too much and goes home. Little does he know, his life is about to change even more.

The next day he comes across a mother and son crossing the border illegally. They have a good reason to be leaving, as the boy’s uncle stole money from the cartel. The cartel gets wind of it to start chasing them just as they get over the border. Neeson prevents the cartel from nabbing the two. This kicks off a series of predictable events across the country, Cannonball Run II style.

Most of the film takes place in New Mexico and Ohio. It looks like it. There’s desert, there’s small town, then they’re outside of a nebulous city that is supposed to be Chicago. In each location, even if they pay by cash and hide the truck, the generic cartel assholes find them, kill innocent people and then move on to the next town as the fugitives barely escape.

This is not a good film, even if young Joe Perez is an adorable (but not too adorable) kid. Neeson does his best to hid his Irish accent and his disdain for weapons. His feelings of loss and sadness barely register, surprisingly. It’s a few words placed here and there to move the plot forward.

Neeson’s been in more interesting stuff, even for dumb action. This film feels left over from Clint Eastwood’s discard bin. Unless you are desperate to sit in a theater of people who are as unmoved by you by the action onscreen, this film is best avoided.

(*1/2 out of *****)

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