My love for Liam Neeson knows no bounds - no matter how many mediocre movies he stars in, I will always watch the next one, in hopes that maybe my expectations will be subverted and I will be treated to a good film. Unfortunately, in the last few years, Mr. Neeson has starred in a string of mediocre movies. "Taken 3" is bad beyond description, mainly due to its atrocious editing style. "Cold Pursuit" attempted to go the dark comedy route, and in my opinion, missed its mark. "Honest Thief" was painfully banal, filled with stilted acting and a noticeable lack of action. And now we have "The Marksman," another entry in the mediocre Liam Neeson movie genre.
"The Marksman" is less of an action thriller and more of a drama, and that's not inherently bad. However, the movie boasts an astounding lack of suspense and tension throughout, plodding along from scene to scene until the inevitable final confrontation - which to the film's credit, is exciting. However, before you have the pleasure of watching that, you have to sit through a long, slow, road-trip style adventure, that lacks any type of thrill. Sure, you'll find one or two intermittent "action" scenes during the course of the movie, but these scenes barely contain any worthwhile action. There is a poorly filmed fistfight that lasts about 10 seconds, as well as a mild getaway type of scenario that our hero has to escape from, and that's about it.
Because of its lack of action, the main draw of "The Marksman" is its actors, namely Liam Neeson and Jacob Perez. Liam Neeson is good with what the script has him do, and I enjoyed his character. A previous member of the Marine Corp, Liam's character, Jim, struggles with alcohol, and is unapologetically atheist, which I found interesting for a character in a mainstream film. While I was originally opposed to watching a movie with a child actor in it, because of how bad child actors usually are, Jacob Perez was, to my surprise, pretty good. He could pull off emotion when he needed to, but mostly he was likeable, and it was enjoyable to watch him and Liam interact. There was some good comedy throughout, and some interesting conversations between the two characters, but that leads me into some more negatives.
Unfortunately, for a movie that is so dialogue heavy, a lot of the dialogue was very boring. There were so many opportunities for the characters to argue or engage in a verbal battle because of their own respective beliefs and morals, but the script took the easy way out it seems, instead employing a large use of exposition. Additionally, for a movie that takes place on the road, it doesn't look very good. The cinematography and directing is very basic, almost as if this was originally a made for television film that at the last minute the studios decided to release in theatres.
When the action starts, it is exciting, specifically the battle at the end. Liam pulls off some badass moves, and he puts his rifle to work. However, at this point the movie was too little, too late, and I was so disengaged that I was more looking forward for it to end. In case it wasn't clear - I still love Liam Neeson, and I'll never stop watching his movies. However, at the end of "The Marksman," I almost found myself asking if I should even bother anymore.