Saturday 23 March 2024

Movie Review: The Marksman (2021)

Genre: Action Drama  
Director: Robert Lorenz  
Starring: Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Teresa Ruiz  
Running Time: 108 minutes  

Synopsis: Recently widowed and struggling financially, ex-Marine Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) owns an Arizona ranch adjacent to the border. In Mexico, Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) and her young son Miguel are forced to flee from a violent cartel. They stumble across the fence and into Jim's path, barely ahead of cartel enforcer Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba) and his goons. When Rosa succumbs to injuries, Jim takes on the responsibility of getting Miguel to safety, even if he has to disobey the wishes of border agent Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), who is also his step-daughter.

What Works Well: The illegal border crossing crisis is humanized under stark desert skies, and Liam Neeson oozes the pain of days gone and the unshakeable duty to do right. This is a well-controlled road-trip-chase drama punctuated by some action, as grizzled veteran and young boy get to know each other. The short but impactful investment in villain Mauricio impresses. He is introduced as yearning for a brother-in-arms soldier's identity, with a notable payoff in the climax. 

What Does Not Work As Well: Despite the good coat of polish, this is a B-movie with truncated ambitions and cringey dialogue. Plenty of narrative short-cuts are required to make the plot work, including Mexican gangsters seemingly having large swaths of the US enforcement apparatus in their pocket.

Conclusion: Enough shots hit the target to earn a solid mark.

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