The Marksman is off-target.
Liam Neeson certainly isn’t an everyman, but he feels like one and is an actor many can identify with. He plays characters who protect their loved ones, the woman he loves in particular. His choices of late, unfortunately, I’m worried have entered Steven Seagal territory. With each passing film, the action gets tamer and the stories even lamer by comparison. That pretty much sums up his latest film, The Marksman, which is nothing but trope-filled inconsequential scenes that follow the hollow action thriller playbook genre step by each yawn-inducing step.
Neeson plays Jim, a former Marine sniper who lives a quiet existence as a widower on his ranch along the American-Mexican border in Arizona. His wife passed away from cancer a couple of years prior and spent most of his savings paying her medical bills. The bank, though, doesn’t care and has come to reclaim their land. He goes for a drive to clear his head along the road right next to the border fence. He sees a young woman and her adolescent son attempt to cross while being chased by a couple of bad cartel men looking to stop them from escaping. They manage to hit the mother as Jim drives away before killing the villain’s brother, thus creating a cliched vendetta for the rest of the picture.
The Marksman was directed by Robert Lorenz, who has one feature film, Trouble with the Curve, to his credit. He was the assistant director to Clint Eastwood for years, and the action is so stagnant here you have to wonder if the film was intended to star his former mentor. The script by Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz, and Lorenz goes through the motions of Neeson’s Jim running away with the boy, and everyone he meets will meet an untimely demise. The plot twists are obvious and when the film is mind-numbing, it attempts to wake you up with some violence, involving a young teenage grocery store attendant and a dog, that is just over the top and out of line.
The Marksman is another misfire for Neeson who needs to find better scripts. I think he should do a comedy to clear his head a bit. He is a gifted actor who not only deserves better material but better films for his audience.