A rancher on the Arizona border becomes the unlikely defender of a young Mexican boy desperately fleeing the cartel assassins who've pursued him into the U.S. (from IMDb)
The Marksman is the latest entry in Liam Neeson's return to the action genre. While there isn't quite as much action in The Marksman as his recent movies, The Commuter or Honest Thief, his latest film still gives him a chance to fight off bad guys and get into some fisticuffs along the way. While many are quick to write off Neeson's current age of 68 (and he was probably 66 or 67 at the time he made this movie), the story of The Marksman seems more fitting for his character and what he's reasonably able to do at this age. In this movie, Neeson plays a man named Jim who is a lonely widower living on a ranch in Arizona near the Mexican border. When he encounters a young boy fleeing the threat of the Mexican cartel, Jim ends up escorting the boy on a road trip to reunite him with family.
The Marksman is probably most comparative to Tom Hanks' recent film, News of the World. In both movies, the aging men are skilled war veterans who have to protect a child of a different nationality than them as they travel across dangerous lands to reunite them with family. The stories do not play out the same, however, and while Hanks' film was a period drama, The Marksman is set in modern times. Jacob Perez plays the young boy, Miguel, and is a good little actor. At times he does seem a bit dry, but considering the situation he's in, it does make sense. Still, I think the movie would have benefitted from a bit more warmth from his character. Neeson plays Jim rather gruffly, with a bit of a grumpy old man thing going on, but he does it well and it makes sense for his heartbroken, down-on-his-luck character. (Still, Hanks did inject his character with more hope and positivity which only bolstered his performance and character.)
As a story, The Marksman is more of a drama than an action film. There is some tension that builds nicely with Jim needing to be constantly looking over his shoulder and questioning the intentions of nearly everyone he encounters while on the road. Overall, the film moves a bit slowly with only bursts of action here and there. There definitely are still some great moments, though, especially during the climax of the film. Those looking for a real nailbiter, however, will be terribly disappointed.
There isn't a lot of spiritual content in the film's plot, but there's a sad moment where Miguel tries to encourage Jim that they'll see their loved ones again in Heaven, to which Jim shoots back in iritation, "There is no heaven, it's just something people invented to help them feel better" (or something like that). Miguel soon comments that he wished he could have a proper funeral for his mother, and Jim decides to pull over at a church and ask the minister to hold a service for Miguel. The minister then tells Jim that the boy's mother must have had a lot of faith in him to entrust her son to his care. It's a sweet moment and a sort of turning point for Jim, which adds some heart to the film. And, if anything, the movie does have some good heart to it, with a resolution that is bittersweet but fitting.
The content is definitely PG-13. There is one "F" word spoken from a highway patrolman and plenty of uses of the "S" word from Neeson, as well as regular uses of "d*mn" and "h*ll." There are also a few uses of "G*dd*mn" and 1 of "Chr-st." There's a good deal of violence, with some bloody results. In the early scenes, Jim finds a wolf chewing on the underbelly of one of his cows (which we briefly see), and then he finds an injured man with bloody feet. Later, multiple characters have blood on their faces after some fights and a big car wreck. Several people get shot with a rifle throughout the film, but it's seldom bloody. The camera also frequently cuts away just as a gun is going off. Overall, the movie is pretty intense and violent at times, so I'd definitely encourage caution (and to check out the full list of violent instances below).
The Marksman is hardly one of this Oscar-winner's best films, but it's still an enjoyable Liam Neeson film. It's surprisingly got heart where it counts, and is a decent one to check out if you're a fan of the star or if you're looking for a little entertainment on a rainy afternoon.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 5/9/21)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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