THE MARKSMAN (2021) movie poster
Trying to save his Arizona ranch, the last thing loner and ex-Marine Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) needs is more trouble. When he encounters migrants Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) and her 11-year-old son Miguel (Jacob Perez) running from drug cartel assassins, more trouble comes his way. Promising Rosa he will get Miguel to relatives in Chicago, the hardened Hanson and the young fugitive reluctantly take a dangerous road trip. An unlikely friendship develops as the killers, led by relentless Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba), get closer.

With Liam Neeson the main attraction, a full-blown action thriller is expected. But this latest attempt at making a modern western is surprisingly short on action and thrills. Director Robert Lorenz, who helmed the Clint Eastwood baseball drama "Trouble with the Curve", spends most of this film's length on drama and emotion. Mr. Neeson is up to the task, but this is not what the fans look forward to with a title like "The Marksman". The screenplay by Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz and Lorenz is predictable from beginning to end - with clich├ęs piled on thick. The dark tale of pursuit has many deaths, but still feels tame. In the movie's defense, a few bursts of violence and the final confrontation are done well. Liam Neeson and young Jacob Perez carry most of the scenes believably. The able supporting cast fills the screen with vicious killers and other stock characters. Juan Pablo Raba is easy to hate as the lead assassin. Katheryn Winnick, a commanding presence as Lagertha on TV's "Vikings", is underused as Jim's step-daughter Sarah - a Border Patrol agent who tries to help the hunted duo. On the plus side, cinematographer Mark Patten makes good use of the New Mexico and Ohio location sceneries. Director Lorenz appears to be trying to make an Eastwood western (Clint can be spotted here on a background television in "Hang 'Em High" - a good oater). Sadly, "The Marksman" misses the bull's-eye. (2/5 CAMS)

Rated PG-13 (for violence, some bloody images and brief strong language)
Running Time: 108 minutes

In theaters January 15, 2021.

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