What ever happened to the Liam Neeson that we all loved to watch so much? He has been getting himself involved in one B-grade sub-standard thriller after another. After his dismay effort last year, Honest Thief, we had hoped for something better with The Marksman. Afterall even the film’s title suggests that this could at least provide more Liam Neeson action and gun power.
Sadly, Liam Neeson is once again wasted in this effort. For a movie that is titled The Marksman, the gun fights were few and far apart. Presumably the Marksman in the the title is referring to Lima’s character, Jim, a lonely just widowed rancher who inevitably finds himself being guardian and protector to an illegal Mexican immigrant boy. Jim’s skill as being a marksman is never really referred to directly. He is merely introduced as a former Marine. Whether that automatically qualifies him as being a marksman is questionable. Instead of using the opportunity to get Liam into all sorts of fists and gun flights, we are being treated instead to him exchanging conversations with his young Mexican charge (played by child actor Jacob Perez).
Director Robert Lorenz follows a rather basic and lazy way of character portrayal and stereotyping. All the bad guys are shown as mean and gruffy looking with their bodies covered with bold tattoos. And the few times any female character appears on screen, they are usually dressed up in tight outfits emphasising the contours of their bosoms. Robert has however been a producer in his career so far and seldom actually directs. In fact he has been recognised three times by the Academy Awards as producer for Mystic River, Letters from Iwo Jima and American Sniper! It comes as a surprise how far a departure the quality of The Marksman is from these other illustrious films. The film makers also seem to have a rather unorthodox sense of morality as it shows Liam very easily deciding to take the law into his own hands by kidnapping the child from police custardy, burning money stolen from a drug cartel instead of surrendering it to the law, and even giving a small kid an impromptu shooting lesson while showing him how he handles a gun! Despite these bold social contradictions, the film shied away from having the child draw first blood after taking lessons from a marksman. That is another missed opportunity as it might have been a strong statement against violence and elevated the film into something a strong anti-gun social message and possibly a lasting and unforgettable closure. Alas, the film makers here have opted for the standard and routine happy ending.
Despite the limited range of material given to Liam, he still manages to emerge unscathed. He had some nice emotional quiet moments where his facial and body language spoke volumes in portraying the inner sufferings of his character. This reminds us of what an accomplished actor Liam Neeson is and a feeling of regret that he isn’t getting the kind of roles in Hollywood that allows him to express himself and show off his great talents. Despite this set back I am still looking forward for the next Liam Neeson movie, always with the hope and anticipation that that would be THE one that brings him back to form.