Jim Hanson’s quiet life is suddenly disturbed by two people crossing the US/Mexico border – a woman and her young son – desperate to flee a Mexican cartel. After a shootout leaves the mother dead, Jim becomes the boy’s reluctant defender. He embraces his role as Miguel’s protector and will stop at nothing to get him to safety, as they go on the run from the relentless assassins.
Liam Neeson is back in “The Marksman” and despite some flaws; the film provides what his fans want and is an engaging and topical film. Neeson plays Jim; a widower who spends his time on a tiny and struggling ranch in Arizona near the border. Jim is facing foreclosure from the bank after dealing with devastating medical bills for his late wife and feels that as a former Marine he has been given a bad deal by the system. Jim often drives along the border fence and radios in suspected crossings but is willing to provide aid to those who finds in distress. When Jim encounters a young woman and her son Miguel (Jacob Perez); he is drawn into conflict when they are pursued by some dangerous people which forces Jim to shoot when weapons are drawn killing one of the group in the process as well as the boy’s mother. Jim turns the boy over to the Border Patrol where his daughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), is in charge of the local office and is concerned when he learns the boy is to be sent back to family. Seeing the individuals he had previously had a gunfight with waiting for Miguel to cross; Jim decides to honor the dying wish of Miguel’s mother to take him to family in Chicago; even when that means abducting Miguel from custody. The trip not only puts Jim at odds with his daughter but as well as Miguel who wants to return home and causes the dangerous individuals to cross into the U.S. to ruthlessly track Jim and Miguel to exact their revenge. The film moves at a steady and deliberate pace until the finale gives fans a taste of the action that they would come to expect. It does take some patience as I saw numerous opportunities for a person of Jim’s skill to attempt to set an ambush, trap, or counter the dangers facing them but the final resolutions are enjoyable and satisfying. While the film does not have the action and intensity of some of Neeson’s recent works; it does provide enough entertainment to make it worth a watch and does contain content based on some very volatile and controversial topics which would spur intense debate. 3 stars out of 5
Liam Neeson has the magic touch that gives a boost to almost any movie he’s cast in, be it a love story or an action thriller. He makes the most mundane films palatable, so it shouldn’t be a shocker that Neeson is the best thing about “The Marksman,” a formulaic (but still entertaining) movie from director Robert Lorenz. Neeson plays Jim Hanson, an ex-Marine turned Arizona rancher who’s lost his wife to cancer and is about to lose his home to foreclosure. The man lives a life of solitude on an isolated stretch of land that touches the Mexican border. While out tending to his cattle one afternoon with his beloved dog Jackson, Jim sees a young mother named Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) and her son Miguel (Jacob Perez) slip through the border fence and take off running. He stops to help the pair after they plead for protection from the assassins that are following them. Tempers flare and the encounter ends in a shootout, killing Rosa. Her dying wish is for Jim to deliver Miguel safely to extended family in Chicago. A predictable road trip follows, with the bad guys hot on their trail. The body count piles up as the deadly cartel doesn’t hesitate to kill anyone and everyone who gets in their way. As they try to outrun the danger, the man and boy form an unlikely friendship and manage to stay one step ahead of the killers who remain in pursuit. Eventually their luck runs out, and Jim must do whatever it takes to fight for Miguel’s life. Neeson spends most of the movie growling at Perez, who doesn’t have much to do himself. The two have a nice chemistry, but Neeson’s grumpy old man shtick seems more fitting for someone like Clint Eastwood. Neeson does eventually get to open up a can of whoop ass on the baddies, but this film is a slight departure from his normal action star routine. The plot follows standard genre conventions, has plenty of gun violence, and will meet the the expectations of its target audience. Not only is the movie competently directed, but there’s more than enough to enjoy here — especially if you’re looking for mindless entertainment with a hint of a social message. The sentiment is progressive for an action movie, and the illegal immigration angle doesn’t feel forced. It actually works as a means of bringing the characters together. “The Marksman” isn’t exactly a notable player in the action genre, but it’s a good film for those who want a well-made, solid action movie with few surprises. By: Louisa Moore