Film Review: The Marksman

STUDIO: Open Road Films | DIRECTOR: Robert Lorenz | CAST: Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Jacob Perez, Teresa Ruiz, Juan Pablo Raba
RELEASE DATE: Jan. 15, 2021
SPECS: PG-13 | 97 min. | Action thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  1/2

Since Taken became a surprise hit in the winter of 2008, Liam Neeson has cranked out a series of thrillers that have made him a go-to action hero between stints for more higher profile efforts like Martin Scorsese’s Silence or Steve McQueen’s Widows.

In The Marksman, his latest cold month caper, Neeson plays Jim Hanson, a down-and-out widowed rancher and ex-Marine living near the Arizona/Mexico border. After saving a young boy (Jacob Perez) from a group of drug cartel assassins led by Maurizio (Juan Pablo Raba, Peppermint), Hanson decides to take him to his family in Chicago for safety while the criminals are in hot pursuit. Hanson bonds with the boy and he’s soon called on to use his expert sharpshooting skills as the two embark on their dangerous trek.

Most Neeson actioners are formulaic at worst, but the actor’s solemn authority and steely  comeuppance usually go a long way making standard “B” movie material often better than expected. True to form, The Marksman is formulaic alright, but it’s also annoyingly slow-paced and unspectacular in its action staging despite its opportunity to get extra points for possible political depth with its border conflict scenario.

Certainly, more is expected from director Robert Lorenz (Trouble with the Curve), who served for years as an acolyte of Clint Eastwood, serving as an assistant or second unit director to the filmmaker on a number of projects.

In fact, The Marksman will remind many of Eastwood’s solid 2018 cartel drama The Mule. Unfortunately, The Marksman moseys around with much less excitement than The Mule, even with the potentially explosive, ever-familiar angst of Liam Neeson.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.