After going through another stage of cinema abstinence when most theatres in Illinois closed around thanksgiving due to COVID concerns, I was thrilled when a couple of cinemas recently reopened. Almost immediately, I decided to go see The Marksman on the big screen. It is directed by Robert Lorenz and stars Liam Neeson. The Marksman may look like a repetitive hero film for Neeson, but it is clever and gripping due to its title, plot, and interesting twists throughout its 108-minute showing time. The Marksman has many moments that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats wondering what conflict is around the next corner. The most intriguing element is that unlike many of Neeson’s other action films which are based on a one-day problem, the suspense in The Marksman goes on for multiple days.
Liam Neeson plays Jim, a widower and rancher living on the Arizona Border. He has different debts to pay and is trying to figure out what path is right for him in his life of solitude. All that changes when he comes across a mother and her son trying to flee from cartels along the border. He tries assist with the situation. However, when the cartels get into a shooting spree, Jim does what he can to protect the boy and his mother, but only the son survives. This leaves Jim to make the dangerous choice to protect the boy and get him across the U.S. border where he can be with a member of his family and be safe for good. But as they make their treacherous journey with the cartels on their tail and border patrol challenges to deal with, Jim does all he can to cover his tracks and get the boy to safety. While they are being tracked, Jim becomes more resourceful. This is when The Marksman becomes attention-grabbing, but the setup is somewhat predictable.
The cat and mouse game between Jim and the cartels is exactly what fans want. Any film that has Neeson involved in shootouts or fights to protect someone is precisely what his fans anticipate. I found the most exciting action scenes were when someone was being blindsided. for Although some seemed quite predictable, they still kept the audience wondering if things would become more dangerous or lead to more irreparable consequences. Clearly, we are accustomed to Neeson being the hero and he continues to fit that label well.
The Marksman is a fun action film that provides viewing pleasure but is not amazing. While there is good acting and lots of action, the predictable plot makes it just a decent movie. Also, during a time when cinemas are facing financial challenges, these types of movies are what is needed to help cinemas slowly regain some business momentum. Given the films is very commercial and has grade A actors, I give two and a half stars to The Marksman.