Thursday, January 14, 2021

Movie with Abe: The Marksman

The Marksman
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Released January 15, 2021

In certain cases, it’s unclear whether an actor was cast for a particular role or if the part was actually written specifically for that actor. This is far more typical in the case of big-budget blockbusters or action films than independent features or biopics, and that’s often because a star is marketable and audiences will buy tickets to see them in any capacity. How much effort is put in to building a coherent narrative around that central character is not set in stone, and it’s definitely much easier to simply rely on the bankability of a name alone.

Liam Neeson stars as Jim, a widower who lives in Arizona right near the Mexico-U.S. border. Just after he learns that he is going to lose his home to the bank over late payments caused by high medical bills for his late wife, Jim encounters a young mother (Teresa Ruiz) who has just illegally crossed the border with her eleven-year-old son Miguel (Jacob Perez). Though he wants to stay out of trouble and report their presence to his stepdaughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), who works in law enforcement, Jim must keep the promise he makes to Miguel’s mother to transport him safely to Chicago as they are trailed by cartel operatives led by the vengeful Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba).

Neeson had another vehicle like this in last year’s “Honest Thief,” where he portrayed Tom, a bank robber determined to put his criminal past behind him after falling in love. Here, he’s on the other side of that, devastated to be left alone after a rich life with a loyal partner, and the threat of losing the one thing he has left coupled with compassion for a child out of options leads to him to focus on nothing but fulfilling a caring mother’s request. From the moment he makes that choice, Jim is immediately endowed with all the past training and abilities of Neeson’s previous characters.

Most who choose to watch this film will be looking forward to the moment in which Jim becomes merely a stand-in for any role that Neeson has had in the past. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead to particularly creative or engaging filmmaking, as Jim is more tired and less expressive even than the already low-key Tom. The immigration elements of the story add little, and there are actually few moments of true satisfying action that should please Neeson fans. It’s certainly much more logical than the Sean Penn starrer “The Gunman,” and there’s nothing inherently bad about it, but this film has a thin premise and doesn’t aim particularly high in any respect.


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