If you've been a fan of other recent Liam Neeson action films, then "The Marksman" will hit the mark. Yes, it's another in a series of generic action films starring the Oscar-nominated actor ("Honest Thief," "Cold Pursuit," "The Commuter" and of course the "Taken" films), but of them, "The Marksman" is at least passable entertainment, if nothing more.
In this one, Neeson plays a widowed rancher, Jim, who in a former life was a decorated military marksman. His ranch is on the verge of being taken from him, and he is forced to scrape by, by selling off his livestock (not that any of this ends up being relevant to the overall story).
Elsewhere, a violent cartel led by tatoo-ed meany Maurico (Juan Pablo Ruiz), tracks a young mother and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez), to tie up some loose ends. Bad news for Maurico, he ends up on Jim's land, and Jim ends up defending the young boy and leading him away from the carnage. For the rest of the film, Jim attempts to protect the child from a terrible villain who is lurking just around the corner. So it's sort of like "The Mandalorian," I guess, set in Arizona instead of Tatooine, with less-interesting characters and dialogue.
Jim's only real ally is local law enforcement agent, Sarah ("Vikings" alum Katheryn Winnick), who sadly isn't given much to do. Winnick will undoubtedly become a household name at some point in her career - based on her amazing work on "Vikings" - but this isn't the vehicle that's going to make that happen.
As Jim and Miguel bounce from one threat to the next, the film ends with the scene we've been waiting for, where Jim gets to take out some bad guys using his gifted sniping skills.
There is not one frame of "The Marskman" that isn't familiar, there are no beats that the audience won't recognize from other films of this type. However, if that's what you are looking for, and if you've found yourself enjoying other Neeson-led action flicks, "The Marksman" is a bit better - just by a hair - than many of the others that have proceeded it.
That's not high praise, but if the synopsis or trailer for "The Marksman" is enough to get you to watch it, odds are you won't be disappointed, even if it equally isn't likely to knock your socks off.
Genre: Action, Thriller.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Teresa Ruiz, Juan Pablo Raba, Jacob Perez.
Directed by Robert Lorenz ("Trouble With the Curve").
"The Marskman" is in theaters Friday, January 15th, 2021.
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