The Marksman

The Marksman ★★

"Get in here and let's finish this."

Another day, another Liam Neeson action-thriller graces our screens, this time with Robert Lorenz's 'The Marksman,' a formulaic if not relevant story about an ex-soldier working the U.S.-Mexico border who finds himself caring for a young boy on the run from the cartel. Finding himself in over his head, Neeson's Jim Hanson is forced to use his skills, cunning and kindness to see that the boy reaches his family in Chicago and never has to live in fear of danger and harm again. Life lessons are shared, the two bond quite well, but it feels like hollow box checking to me, never making any clear, real attempts to humanize some of these characters past their generic traits and circumstances.

For a film involving the cartel, it's surprising just how safe and pedestrian it all feels, even with a PG-13 rating. I get that we're not going to be witness to beheadings, torture and other notorious horrors the cartels are infamous for, but beyond one particular bit that really upset me, I never feel a pressing need for Hanson, beyond saving this child, to have a deep desire to kill these men, even as he espouses how there's no good in taking a life. He simply acts, never letting those he trusts in law enforcement to be too involved, and the film plays out predictably, sleepily, until a generic conclusion at a farmhouse that goes just about how you'd expect.

With Neeson's work of late, you know what you're paying for. The rating almost seems to dictate the subject matter and seemingly gone are the days of heavy hitting, breezy flicks like 'Taken' or tight mystery thrillers like 'Non-Stop' and 'The Commuter.' However, Neeson always brings the charm and wit to these films, regardless of how weak the scripts might be, and never gives anything but 110% dedication and commitment to his performance. Some of these films can perhaps be a bit too cheesy and feel good, not delivering on the excitement and intensity as much as I'd like - for a film titled 'The Marksman,' you'd hope for more in the way of sniping and shootouts - but there are worse ways to spend your time.

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