The upcoming movie THE MARKSMAN is certainly nothing original, but it makes up for its conventional storytelling with great cinematography and (mostly) popcorn worthy action.
Here’s the synopsis: Hardened Arizona rancher Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) simply wants to be left alone as he fends off eviction notices and tries to make a living on an isolated stretch of borderland. But everything changes when Hanson, an ex-Marine, witnesses 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) fleeing with his mother Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) from drug cartel assassins led by the ruthless Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba). After being caught in a shoot-out, an injured Rosa begs Jim to take her son to safety to her family in Chicago. Defying his stepdaughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), Jim sneaks Miguel out of the local U.S. Customs and Border Patrol station and together, they hit the road with the group of killers in pursuit. Jim and Miguel slowly begin to overcome their differences and begin to forge an unlikely friendship, while Mauricio and his fellow assassins blaze a cold-blooded trail, hot on their heels.
The film is a formulaic “white savior” telling, with a protagonist who’s an older Marine veteran, has exceptional shooting skills, and is a widower on the verge of literally losing the farm due to his wife’s illness and multiple medical bills.
And I wasn’t happy about the “dog whistling” I believe the story alludes to with Neeson’s character – specifically one of him using the term IA’s as in illegal aliens, then later describing living on border and needing the government to “get itself together and do something” about people crossing, although he stopped short of saying build the wall.
I also found the following (slight spoilers) a bit hard to digest and lost suspension of disbelief when:
- Border patrol did not question a cartel member and overlooked a possibly known gang tattoo.
- Cartel money was located, no attachments, and burned (whaaat???)
- Gang members stood on a highway overpass waiting for a specific car to pass, with no knowledge or consideration of time allowance or nothing!
But as initially stated, I do believe the action, and the eventual resolution, makes the film a satisfying (enough) watch. And I really enjoyed watching Jacob Perez hold his own as Miguel against Neeson’s Hanson. He brought both levity and maturity to the role at the required times, making it easy to root for Miguel and feel empathy for his plight.
I’m quite certain this will be one of those split review, critics versus general audience, moments with respect to its popularity, but I’m rating the film 3 out of 5 on the MMTrometer for its entertainment value despite the flaws.
THE MARKSMAN is in theaters this Friday, January 15.
Until next thought, Thomasena