Critic’s Corner: ‘The Marksman’ review

Sarah Wandor

Critic’s Corner Columnist

“The Marksman,” which was released on January 15, 2021, tells the story of a rancher, Jim, who helps Miguel, a boy from Mexico, get to his family in Chicago while being chased by members of the cartel.

Despite the name, the film fails to carry the energy and intensity implied by the title and the nature of the plot itself. Jim and Miguel’s first meeting is filled with emotion and tension, with Jim refusing to give Miguel to the cartel, leading to a shootout — but the movie loses it from there.

The film becomes dull with little to no excitement because of the predictability of the story. What is going to happen and how the film will end is known almost from the beginning, taking away any excitement the movie had. From the few fight scenes to the “close encounters” Jim and Miguel have, the movie is cliché, leaving no excitement or mystery for the film to develop and build.

Combine this with dull and close to impassive writing and you have an empty movie. There is little to no depth since the dialogue is no more than empty conversation or small talk. The characters do not deepen their relationships, nor do they ever really talk to each other despite their being next to each other in a truck for the majority of the runtime.

The film goes nowhere except to Chicago and even then, the ending is predictable and boring. It lacks heart, even with Jim going through a lot of emotional pain, because of the lack of meaningful conversation.

The creators attempted to have some heartfelt moments between Jim and Miguel, yet as a result of poor writing and failure to develop those moments further, they are emotionless and devoid of real, true feeling. They are empty and hold no weight as a result of the characters’ seeming lack of interest but more importantly a lack of an emotional bond. They draw no closer or farther apart, pulling the film down and making it seem longer than it should or needs to be.

Save the beginning, the entire film is deadpan and devoid of all energy. There is no intensity or buildup of tension or emotion, just a man and a boy in a truck.

Liam Neeson’s performance of Jim is one of the few redeeming qualities of the film. Jim is a hardened realist as a result of the life he has lived, yet still retains some kindness and Neeson brings that out beautifully. He is able to manage the balance of giving off the air of a tough man but being polite and compassionate.

Jim is a very real character, one who has been through a lot and Neeson does an excellent job of showing that. He allows the character to come to life in ways few actors are capable of and gives a good performance.

Despite Neeson’s charming-as-ever acting, “The Marksman” is bland and empty. Between the film’s predictability, impassive writing and absence of depth in character relationships, it is a dull film with no energy or excitement. It trudges along and fails to bring life to the story, leaving it no feeling or heart. “The Marksman” may be an interesting story but it does not live up to the expectations it set for itself.

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