“If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you,” Liam Neeson’s character says in the movie Taken.
Most of us were “taken” with this line enough to confess that he had us at “If”.
It was a dramatic warning; one we hoped would be rephrased to reassure us that “The Marksman” would be worth watching with our eyes open.
Sadly, this is not the case.
If this movie was a stake, it would’ve been plunged in the heart of our viewing pleasure.
In this movie, Liam Neeson materializes on our screens as a rancher called Jim Hanson.
Jim is also a Marine and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, a credit to Uncle Sam.
However, he’s living out his worst years in southern Arizona, along the Mexico border.
Although Jim is more of a liberal, I have the sneaking feeling that he’d feel better if his life was painted blood-orange by Donald Trump showing up with a concrete wall folded under his arm.
Jim’s wife died of cancer, so his dog Jackson, or “Jackso” in Ugandan-speak, is his sole companion as he lives with the pooch on property the bank is about to foreclose on.
Instead of finding a way out of this financial hole, Jim spends much of his time driving his dog Jackson around like he’s the canine version of Miss Daisy in the 1989 dramedy, Driving Miss Daisy.
On one of these rides, a Mexican mother and son cross into the United States from Mexico through a porous fence on Jim’s land.
The mother and son are on the run from Mexican drug cartel members who look like they would sing the hook to a Fugees’s song by mistaking “one time” for “Juan time”.
Tragically, the mother is shot dead and Jim accepts her dying wish that he takes care of her son Miguel (Jacob Perez).
In doing so, Jim must take Miguel to Chicago and have him reunited with his family.
As the Mexican cartel members pursue Jim and Miguel, we keep hoping that Jim will find a phone and a way to say the memorable words: “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you”.
Unfortunately, there’s not much dialogue in “The Marksman” for us to find memorable.
Most of the words spoken between Jim and Miguel on their road trip from Arizona to Illinois would have been better served if they were replaced by an awkward silence.
The Mexican cartel members in hot pursuit of Jim and Miguel are led by Maurico (Juan Pablo Raba).
Maurico is a villain who shoots everyone and everything he comes in contact with.
This guy is so deadly that if he looked in the mirror, even his reflection would throw on its bulletproof vest or raise its hands in surrender.
We only wish he had better lines, like the villains in Bond movies. This would make us love to hate not being able to love him in this movie we’re all bound to hate.
During Jim and Miguel’s road trip, which characterizes much of this film, you’ll be left asking why this movie wasn’t called “The Driver” instead of “The Marksman” since Jim does more driving than shooting.
It’s all rather superfluous…kind of like asking Omuntu Wa Wansi to dance paka chini: Omuntu wa wansi don’t dance paka chini, they just dance; since they are already down.
You will also be left waiting for Jim’s stepdaughter Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), a border patrol agent, to give us some backstory about Jim.
You know, like when Col Trautman says to the police in First Blood: “I don’t think you understand. I didn’t come to rescue Rambo from you. I came here to rescue you from him”.
However the only sentence you will find thrilling in this movie comes in the shape of the words “The End”.