THE MARKSMAN – Review by Susan Granger

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.