Liam Neeson returns in yet another action-thriller, The Marksman, which is a cut above his previous outing, Honest Thief.
The Production: 3.5/5
Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) is a Marine veteran and widower trying to make the mortgage on his cattle ranch that runs along the Mexican border in Arizona, helping out his step-daughter (Katheryn Winnick) and her team at the US Border Patrol as he finds illegals that have crossed the border on to his property. When he finds a mother (Teresa Ruiz) and her young son Miguel (Jacob Perez) on his property who escaped Mexico through a hole in the fence trying to flee a drug cartel, he loads them in his truck to take them to the Border Patrol office. He is quickly ambushed by the cartel, led by Mauricio (Juan Pablo), who kill the mother but not before Jim kills Mauricio’s brother and escapes, turning the boy into Border Patrol, despite a promise he made to the mother before she died – that he would take Miguel to relatives in Chicago. While sleeping off a bender in the Border Patrol parking lot, he sees Mauricio heading down the road, obviously in pursuit of Miguel. Jim breaks Miguel out of custody, and the two begin a road trip to the Windy City with Mauricio in hot pursuit.
The Marksman is slightly above average compared to Neeson’s more recent efforts, which have been more or less copycats of films from the Taken series. This latest film isn’t as goofy or preposterous as Honest Thief, taking the character of Jim Hanson and its story a bit more seriously. Jim Hanson is a grieving man near the end of his rope, about to lose his ranch after recently losing his wife to cancer. While you could say that part of his reason for taking (no pun intended) Miguel to Chicago is revenge against the cartel, perhaps the real reason is that of duty both to the mother and that of a Marine. The action sequences are well-executed by director Robert Lorenz (Trouble with the Curve), who was a protégé of Clint Eastwood.
3D Rating: NA
The Marksman was shot digitally on the Arri Alexa Mini camera, and the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer, which retains the movie’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1, is quite good. This is a clean and rather crisp transfer overall. Colors are natural and not overly saturated, leaning more towards yellows and browns as its main palette. Fine detail is very good, clearly defining Neeson’s growing beard stubble as the film progresses, as well as fabric textures and set backgrounds. Black levels are very good, with minimal crushing during darker sequences.
The lone DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a bit disappointing. This is a rather front-heavy mix, even during many of the thrilling action sequences. There are some occasional discrete surround cues, mostly atmospheric in nature, with a few bullet ricochets here and there, but not what one would expect from a movie in this genre. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 1/5
The Making of The Marksman (1080p; 8:19): This is your run of the mill EPK behind the scenes fluff piece with cast and crew commenting on how great the movie is.
Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included to redeem a digital HD copy of the film, with a Universal Regards All Access code on the reverse side.
While The Marksman may not be a good film, it is much more believable and enjoyable than Honest Thief.
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