Liam Neeson is typecast as an aged but grizzled Arizonan rancher (though his Irish twang is unaffected) Jim in director Robert Lorenz’s The Marksman. He’s a widower on the verge of losing his ranch (located right next to the Mexican border) after his finances are depleted by the cost of his wife’s medical bills, he’s a war veteran, and he has an adorable canine companion. Basically, the opening act really wants viewers to care about the plight of this everyday American hero. Soon after, his quiet life is disrupted when he finds himself in the care of a young boy (newcomer Jacob Perez) fleeing Mexico from the cartel. The boy’s mother (Teresa Ruiz) is killed, and Jim promises to take the boy to Illinois, where he’ll be safe.
The Marksman is tonally and thematically somewhere between Logan and The Mule. It wears its Western influences on its sleeve, from its dusty setting to the lone gunman hero. The characters even watch Hang ‘Em High playing on a motel television just as the heroes of Logan watched Shane. Unlike its inspirations, though, The Marksman is rather stale in comparison. While engaging enough to see most audiences make it to the end credits, it’s unlikely that many will remember it a week later.
The trouble with this feature is that it does the bear minimum required to scrape by; it lacks the nuance needed to give the action and characters any sort of depth. Aside from his sympathetic backstory, for example, Jim is a bland action stereotype. His only motivation is that he just wants to do the right thing, no matter the cost. And despite living on the frontlines of cartel border activity, he has no thoughts on issues of immigration or crime. Similarly, Juan Pablo Raba is criminally underused as the vicious antagonist hot on Jim’s tail.
The Marksman does just enough with its familiar premise to be an adequately entertaining Western outing. However, the noticeable shortcomings here leave a lot to be desired.
The Marksman is released nationwide on 5th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Marksman here: