“The Marksman” (2021)
Running time: 108 minutes
Written by: Robert Lorenz, Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz
Directed by: Robert Lorenz
Featuring: Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba and Teresa Ruiz
Jim: “I don’t scare easy.”
Released on Blu-ray and DVD is the latest in a long line of Liam Neeson starring action movies in the form of “The Marksman” (2021) a bit of a throwback to the 1990s where a movie would not only feature action but would also make a comment on some kind of issue, in this case there is a cursory nod towards immigration and the crime that goes with that. Now don’t expect some kind of dissertation by the main character because this is still an action movie, albeit not a very good one as the plot and narrative seem as tired as Neeson looks in this movie. “The Marksman” definitely thinks it is one thing, an earnest Clint Eastwood style movie but is devoid of any nuance or the subtilise that Eastwood, who is a master filmmaker brings to even his worst movies. This is mainly due to the script as well as the direction both of which are in a word, bland.
At almost seventy years old Liam Neeson is now known as an action movie star which is certainly saying something about the age we are living in. Of course we all know how since starring in “Taken” (2008) almost fifteen years ago Neeson has consistently made action movies of varying quality, in saying that they have almost all made money in one form or another, the reason is obvious, Neeson has the kind of charisma that the aforementioned Eastwood has, it is unfortunate then that he seems to lack the material to really show it. In fact since taken Neeson has appeared in eighteen action movies in fourteen years so it is a genre he knows intimately. There is also no doubt that the best of those movies have been helmed by Pierre Morel and Jaume Collet-Serra.
“The Marksman” is based around former United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper and Vietnam War veteran Jim Hanson who lives along the Arizona-Mexico border, reporting attempted illegal crossings. One day, while on patrol, he encounters Rosa and her son Miguel, Mexican citizens on the run from the cartel. Hanson calls border patrol on them before he sees the cartel coming up. He ends the call and gets involved in a shootout with the cartel led by Mauricio. Hanson shoots and kills Mauricio’s brother; Rosa is fatally wounded by one of the cartel members. Before she passes, she gives Hanson a note that lists her family’s address in Chicago. Hanson reluctantly agrees to take Miguel to her family in Chicago.
This movie is written and directed by Robert Lorenz whose previous outing was the Clint Eastwood starrer “Trouble with the Curve” (2012) which seemed to waste all those involved with a relatively route script as well as some basic direction. Lorenz had previously worked on Eastwoods films and again while many of those films had the laconic and seemingly effortless signature of Eastwoods films none of that was present in “Trouble with the Curve” or “The Marksman”. What is unfortunate is that Lorenz has chosen to represent the villains in this movie in such a reductive way matching any stereotype that any viewer could think of. This matched with the morale character of Jim Hanson mean that we are seeing the Alamo played out again with a very different outcome which is an odd thing to happen in this type of movie, especially one that has been played out time and time again, most recently in “Logan” (2017) with much better results.
Of course the movie is supposed to be anchored by Liam Neeson and he does what he can with the material given playing someone beaten by the system and a widower to boot. He is a man who has been set up as someone living out of time with no real allies and nothing to lose which is an archetype seen in older movies, the question I have is who is this movie appealing to? There is a supporting cast with the biggest name being legitimate action star Katheryn Winnick, who here is almost given nothing to do but play the shrill, a woman who constantly whines and moans until she finally just leaves to let the man do his thing, be a man. Winnick deserves so much more than this, especially from someone who played the shield maiden Lagertha so well in “Vikings” (2013-2021).
This movie is so paint by numbers that I find it insulting there are three credited writers on this almost racist diatribe if white people versus Mexicans, not only that but it doubles as a white people will also save the Mexicans. I get why Neeson would star in this movie and it comes down to money which I assume the producers were willing to fork over to get a legitimate action star. However I cannot really recommend this movie at all, it has little redeeming value at all.