The marksman

The marksman
Original title:The marksman
Director:Robert Lorenz
Running time:108 minutes
Release date:00 0000 (France)

Mulder's Review

An appreciated and recognized actor, Liam Neeson has not only in his past won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for Michael Collins (1996) but before specializing his last years in action films (The A-Team (2010), Unknown (2011), The Dark Knight (2012), the Taken saga (2008-2015), The Passenger (The Commuter) (2018)), is best appreciated for having delivered solid performances under the direction of renowned directors such as Christopher Nolan, J. J. Abrams, Jaume Collet-Serra, Joe Carnahan, John Boorman, Kathryn Bigelow, Martin Scorsese, Neil Jordan, Ridley Scott, Roland Joffé, Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg.

We can easily understand his desire to leave these action films made to measure for him to embody another image of the American hero. A hero voluntarily more human with his flaws but especially a real moral code. The character he plays in The Marksman is not a clone of Bryan Mills (Taken) but Jim Hanson, a Vietnam veteran, widower since the death of his wife from cancer, over-indebted because of the care given to his wife, and above all a man who seems to have lost the desire to fight.

A hardened Arizona rancher, he just wants to be left alone as he fends off deportation notices and tries to make a living on a remote stretch of the border. But everything changes when he sees Miguel (Jacob Perez), an 11-year-old migrant, fleeing with his mother Rosa (Teresa Ruiz) to escape the drug cartel assassins led by the ruthless Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba). After being caught in a shootout, a dying Rosa begs Jim to get her son to the safety of his family in Chicago. Defying his daughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), a police officer, he sneaks Miguel out of the local customs house and border patrol and together they hit the road with the group of killers in pursuit. Jim and Miguel slowly begin to overcome their differences and forge an unlikely friendship, while Mauricio and his fellow assassins follow them in cold blood.

A close collaborator of Clint Eastwood, director Robert Lorenz is known for founding the production company Malpaso Productions with him and also serving as his assistant director and second team director on many of his films such as Absolute Power (1997), True Crime (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), American Sniper (2014). The Marksman is his second film as director after A New Chance (Trouble with the Curve) (2012).

By discovering the character played here by Liam Neeson, we feel a concrete link with those recent Clint Eastwood also embodying this aging hero in particular Gran Torino (2008) for which Robert Lorentz was producer via their joint company. The Marskman thus moves away from a simple action movie to focus on the human relationship between Jim Hanson and Miguel. Chased by three dangerous Mexican mafia criminals on the roads of the United States and chased by the police (his daughter Sarah but also a corrupt agent), Jim Hanson and Miguel will learn to appreciate each other and especially Jim will see in him a way to give a meaning to his life by bringing this orphan to his mother's cousin in Chicago.

Once again, Liam Neeson manages to deliver an excellent performance and to make this film an honest and straight thriller like his character. Far from being a film full of non-stop spectacular action scenes, The Marksman reminds us mostly of the last film of the Rambo film saga, the excellent Rambo: Last Blood (2019), an aging hero who inspires to simply live his last days honestly but whose past comes to haunt him and brings out in him this man of action as skilled with a rifle as a sniper as a fearsome fighter.

Far from some American critics who seem to have disliked this film, we prefer to qualify it as honorable because it skillfully and proudly fulfills its duty to entertain us, to present us an endearing road movie but above all to show that Liam Neeson, whatever the movie he is in, remains a brilliant actor capable of playing all the roles and investing himself in all these movies, whether they are American blockbusters or simple movies like this one, reminding us of the importance of having a moral code and of fighting for a fair fight, even if it means going out of one's comfort zone.

The Marksman
Directed by Robert Lorenz
Produced by Tai Duncan, Mark Williams, Warren Goz, Eric Gold, Robert Lorenz
Written by Robert Lorenz, Chris Charles, Danny Kravitz
Starring Liam Neeson, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, Teresa Ruiz
Music by Sean Callery
Cinematography : Mark Patten
Edited by Luis Carballar
Production companies : Raven Capital Management, Sculptor Media, Zero Gravity Management, Voltage Pictures
Distributed by Open Road Films, Briarcliff Entertainment
Release date : January 15, 2021 (United States)
Running time : 108 minutes

Seen on April 13, 2021

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