Having established himself as the screen’s most reliable, older action hero, Liam Neeson comes to the rescue again in this action-thriller, set in Naco, Arizona along the Mexican border.
Neeson plays rancher Jim Henson, a decorated Vietnam War sharpshooter who’s still grieving over the death of his beloved wife from cancer a year ago. Behind on his mortgage payments and facing eviction, his only friends are his faithful dog Jackson and his step-daughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), a border patrol agent.
One day while driving his old Ford pickup, Jim sees a single mother, Rosa (Teresa Ruiz), and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez), being chased by the cartel as they sneak through a hole in the border fence, an encounter that leaves the mother mortally wounded and the boy in danger.
Apparently, Rosa’s brother stole money from the cartel and they’re determined to wreak revenge. Giving Jim a backpack filled with cash, Rosa’s dying wish is to take 11 year-old Miguel to Chicago, where loving family awaits.
But menacing Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba) and his hitmen are determined to pursue them, particularly after Mauricio’s brother is killed.
Flimsily scripted by Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz, and director Robert Lorenz, it’s filled with stereotypical characters and totally predictable plot points. For many years, Lorenz worked with Clint Eastwood, so you can almost hear Eastwood growling, “I’m trying to understand how you can work your whole life, serve your country, pay your taxes – and end up with nothing.”
In another acknowledgement, when Jim and Miguel are in a motel, they’re watching Eastwood’s Western Hang ‘Em High” (1968). The line of dialogue – “He will find you and he will kill you” – is eerily reminiscent of Neeson’s hit film Taken. And when Neeson gulps Kraken rum, that’s an allusion to his role of Zeus in Clash of the Titans (2010), demanding: “Release the Kraken!”
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Marksman is a formidable-yet-forgettable 5, available at a Redbox kiosk and streaming on Prime Video, Vudu and Fandango Now.