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The Marksman – Liam Neeson is a Former Marine Who Protects a Mexican Boy

MOVIE REVIEW – Liam Neeson’s action movie career just won’t stop: this time, the 69-year-old star is a long-retired Marine “protecting” a Mexican boy with a sniper rifle (the film’s original title was The Sniper). Neeson’s film career still has plenty of potentials, but The Marksman is a tired, clichéd road movie with action elements.

 

 

Almost everyone loves Liam Neeson: the 69-year-old Irish actor, who has been in the film industry for nearly 50 years, brings the same reliable, top quality and believable performances to every film he’s worked in – and this is especially true of his “protector” type characters, where he acts as an older, more experienced mentor, a Jedi Master (like Qui-Gon Jinn) or a parent (Taken) trying to protect younger film characters who are somehow connected to him. If you need a ‘father’ character, there is perhaps no better one in the film world right now than Neeson.

Neeson’s other perennial role type is the action hero, a film career that began for Neeson after the stunning success of the Taken films, and since then, the long line of such films has never seemed to run dry. Neeson’s films often combine these two character types: the action hero and the older protector, so it’s no surprise that this is precisely what happens in The Marksman. Here he is protecting a little Mexican boy.

 

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A promise made is a debt unpaid

 

Jim (Liam Neeson) is a former Marine sniper who served in Vietnam and lives as a rancher on a frontier ranch, all alone after his wife died of cancer years earlier. On the other side of the border, a Mexican mother (played by Teresa Ruiz, best remembered as Isabella Bautista, the ‘queen’ of the Mexican drug cartel in Narcos: Mexico) and her young son Miguel are on the run after being pursued by a ruthless drug cartel. Their journey takes them through Jim’s estate, who is unwittingly drawn into the drug war and promises the boy’s mother that he will deliver his son to relatives in Chicago.

What happens next is pretty predictable: Jim sets off to deliver Miguel to the American metropolis with his dog Jackson while Mexican cartel members pursue them. It’s a somewhat formulaic road movie, with very few action sequences and minimal action. In most of them, Neeson is at his best with his sniper rifle, and where he is not, it is very obvious that the Irish actor is nearly 70 years old.

 

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What makes a Neeson action film good – and what makes this one not?

 

Liam Neeson’s action movies have been in their own category since Taken, and we have particular expectations of them. Most of them are not at the level or in the style of the eighties/nineties, but great, fast-paced action sequences reminiscent of the Bourne films, relatively complex characters (including the characters played by Neeson), an overall twisty, great story, betrayals and epic final confrontations are the main characteristics of these films. After The Marksman, I also watched two older Liam Neeson action films on Netflix: 2014’s Non-Stop and 2015’s Run All Night (I recommend them to all fans of the genre who haven’t seen those great films, especially the second one). These two earlier Neeson films were classically better than The Protector and painfully showed that Robert Lorenz’s last film failed in almost every way.

Speaking of the director, it’s worth noting that Lorenz has worked mainly as a second-unit director alongside Clint Eastwood and hasn’t tried his hand at “main director” since The Last Screw (which he directed with Eastwood). However, in addition to overseeing the second-unit work on The Protector, he was once again in charge of the creative process of a complete production. But the script, co-written with Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz, does not want to stray from the tried and tested template, even though Liam Neeson is no Clint Eastwood, Neeson is much better suited to playing the complex, complex action hero character (like in Run All Night) than the simple, wooden, former Marine who any old action hero could play. Plus, you need a dog in the story because, hey, a dog and a boy in the story always works; we’ve known that since the eighties. Neeson plays the protagonist with a tired routine, but he’s capable of so much more – even at 69.

 

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What would a Mexican cartel gang look like? Evil!

 

As clichéd as Neeson’s character is, the Mexican cartel is just as simplistic, and it’s no wonder that we’ve seen quality series like Breaking Bad and the Narcos series mentioned above: Mexico about them for several seasons. Juan Pablo Raba, who played Gustavo Gaviria, a more complex Colombian drug dealer in the original Narcos, is the extremely evil leader of the gang chasing Jim in this film. Although in one scene, during a rather forced dialogue, he tries to explain that he didn’t have much choice as a child to join the Mexican cartel, by then we hate him so much that by them that time, everyone is likely to be utterly unimpressed by this revelation.

 

 

“Non-Stop” indeed?

 

We don’t really have a problem with Neeson playing action heroes to the death (as he recently said), we would just like to see the film, also directed by Robert Lorenz, be a little more high quality, because the Irish star is capable of more complex roles in better movies. This one has not only a painfully clichéd story, but it is also very lacking in terms of action. On the other hand, at the age of 69, Neeson could perhaps slowly return to his once more typical film character dramas because there would be plenty of demand for him…

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MOVIE REVIEW – Liam Neeson’s action movie career just won’t stop: this time, the 69-year-old star is a long-retired Marine “protecting” a Mexican boy with a sniper rifle (the film’s original title was The Sniper). Neeson’s film career still has plenty of potentials, but The Marksman is a tired, clichéd road movie with action elements.     Almost everyone loves Liam Neeson: the 69-year-old Irish actor, who has been in the film industry for nearly 50 years, brings the same reliable, top quality and believable performances to every film he’s worked in - and this is especially true of his…
We don’t really have a problem with Neeson playing action heroes to the death (as he recently said), we would just like to see the film, also directed by Robert Lorenz, be a little more high quality, because the Irish star is capable of more complex roles in better movies. This one has not only a painfully clichéd story, but it is also very lacking in terms of action. On the other hand, at the age of 69, Neeson could perhaps slowly return to his once more typical film character dramas because there would be plenty of demand for him...

The Marksman

Direction - 4.5
Actors - 6.4
Story - 4.2
Visuals/Action - 5.2
Ambience - 4.8

5

AVERAGE

We don’t really have a problem with Neeson playing action heroes to the death (as he recently said), we would just like to see the film, also directed by Robert Lorenz, be a little more high quality, because the Irish star is capable of more complex roles in better movies. This one has not only a painfully clichéd story, but it is also very lacking in terms of action. On the other hand, at the age of 69, Neeson could perhaps slowly return to his once more typical film character dramas because there would be plenty of demand for him...

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