One of the most important components of marksmanship, whether with a bow or a gun, is consistency, going through the same steps in the same way before each shot. If nothing else, The Marksman is entirely consistent with what is expected of an action film starring Liam Neeson, offering nothing new or interesting.
Neeson plays a rancher who is entirely consistent with the tropes of an elder action movie protagonist. He’s a functional alcoholic, a decorated war veteran and a widower who has withdrawn from society since the death of his wife. The film makes an attempt at relevance by throwing in some of the issues from the current immigration debates, Neeson spends his spare time patrolling the section of the US-Mexico Border that runs through his ranch and his stepdaughter is an agent of US Customs and Border Patrol. This attempt fails due to a lack of follow-through – despite the circumstances, Neeson fails to express any hard views on immigration, his issues with undocumented immigrants crossing the border through his ranch stem more from a general crotchety-ness and a desire to be left alone than any political views.
The action is kicked off when a young mother and her son cross paths with Neeson on one of his patrols while fleeing a group of cartel thugs. A firefight ensues that leaves the mother dead and the son, played by Jacob Peralez, in Neeson’s care. What follows is a story that is one part No Country for Old Men, two parts Sicario: Day of the Soldado as Neeson and Peralez embark on a road trip to Chicago where the mother’s remaining relatives live, hounded by cartel hitmen and American law enforcement the whole way. Again, the film attempts to tie the story of Peralez into the broader issue of refugees seeking asylum in the United States to avoid gang violence, but again the film pulls its punches and the result is little more than a weak ploy to incite sympathy. The Marksman is entirely consistent with what one would expect from this kind of movie, offering no surprises or elaboration on the formula. The result is a boring film that is surprising only in that Clint Eastwood isn’t involved in some capacity.
All in all, 2 out of 5
Dull and unnecessary.