Photo: Courtesy from Zero Gravity Management
When will cinematic bad guys ever learn: don’t mess with Liam Neeson.
Kidnappers messed with him three times in the “Taken” franchise and couldn’t beat him.
He shot more drug dealers in “Cold Pursuit” than could fill a cemetery.
He’s led to the demise of more gangsters in “Run All Night,” “Non-Stop” and “A Walk Among the Tombstones” that he’d make Don Corleone blush.
So it is with very little surprise that a Mexican cartel didn’t fair very well when they came after Neeson’s character in his latest film, “The Marksman.”
Neeson plays Jim, a former Marine turned Arizona cattle rancher who recently buried his wife. When he’s not trying to save his fledging farming business that is going through foreclosure, he’s keeping an eye on the U.S.-Mexico border fence, ready to call Border Patrol when he spots illegal aliens sneaking into the U.S.
But when Jim sees a Mexican woman and her young son Miguel (Teresa Ruiz and Jacob Perez) fleeing a group of cartel hit men, he snatches them up but not before getting in a gunfight that claim’s the woman’s life. Jim, of course, drives the boy, Miguel, to the detention center.
But the fight isn’t over – far from it. During the skirmish, Jim fatally shot the brother of head hit man Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba), who vows his revenge.
However, Jim has a conscience when he sees Mauricio about to gain custody of the boy, so he fulfills a promise made to the boy’s mom to deliver Miguel to the kid’s relatives in Chicago.
What transpires during the drive is easily predicted if you’ve ever seen a Neeson movie. They guy is basically a superhero and that no matter the odds, he can’t be killed.
“The Marksman” offers the audience very little out of Neeson, 68, that it hasn’t seen previously. Neeson has a formula, playing the probably Hollywood’s most unlikely hero, a leading man who wins with brains and precision instead of power and muscle.
“The Marksman” isn’t close to Neeson’s best work, but it’s also not close to his worst.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.