(Un)Holiday Road

It’s easy to envision The Marksman as a film leaning between two political extremes. Following an Arizona rancher who’s property intersects with the Mexican border wall, border patrol elements and illegal immigration make for easy marks. But then there’s a super heated cartel on the move, chasing after a young child and his mother who cross seeking asylum, which isn’t guaranteed.

Ignore the blanket depictions, predictable nuance, and stock formula – The Marksman then exists in a comfortable center that’s cautiously written as to avoid any particular belief. Mainstream cinema through and through, with Liam Neeson killing people as the draw.

Deft as the writing is, there’s a wish Marksman would stand for something

Paired with the orphaned Miguel (Jacob Perez), Neeson’s Vietnam veteran Marine (plainly named Jim) heads cross-country to escape the modern equivalent of cardboard Nazis. Losing his ranch to health care debts and making a case for veteran care, Marksman forces the duo together, bonding over their shared loss. Jim lost his wife, Miguel his mother. Guardian and victim, in a derivative, formulaic Hollywood session.

The Marksman isn’t complicated. Bad guys bad, good guys good. The division is so clear and defined by obvious archetypes, Marksman needs something to lift itself out of the drudgery. Action scenes won’t do it, dry in their execution and Neeson’s more removed from his Taken and Star Wars days with every film. Performances rise to acceptability, Perez the stand-out because of his age; he’s convincing beyond his years.

Deft as the writing is, there’s a wish Marksman would stand for something. Anything, really. Although willing to set itself within a contemporary social issue, the attempt to dodge offense leaves the film limping along. This isn’t an action film, not much of a thriller, and as a drama, struggles to breathe much. Conceptually, it’s akin to countless other films being sent to streaming services to fill libraries, and only the promise of Neeson brandishing a gun sells this one.

Video

Graded with a hefty amber hue suited to the desert, rarely does Marksman break from the warmth, other than nightfall where cooler tones drop in. Both flesh tones and primaries follow suit, given little room to breathe. It’s a hot one.

As a positive, the digital cinematography suffers few faults. Superlative clarity rarely loses its way, noise barely an impediment. Crystaline imagery lets the encoding remain transparent. Marksman isn’t the sharpest production though. Resolution doesn’t stick out, even running soft, so this is certainly a 2K finish. Fine detail lags. Fidelity meanders, fine if drab.

Beefy sunlight coats most scenes. There’s no shortness of bright contrast. As needed, black levels pump up shadows, their density superb. No crush to report either.

Audio

Typical 5.1 mixing doesn’t reach spectacular tiers, but sufficiently perks up during action scenes as gunfire spreads around. Bullets ping off trucks and desert, echoes filling the exterior air. Standard pans send cars between speakers as they move. The score nicely utilizes the full soundstage.

Tiny low-end thrust generates minor rumble. Range doesn’t express itself too vividly and only accentuates the design as absolutely necessary.

Extras

A lonely making of runs just past eight minutes. There’s not much to see in a plain EPK.

The Marksman
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Routine and predictable, The Marksman is an unremarkable drama punctuated by a few dry action scenes.

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The 15 unaltered images below represent the Blu-ray. For an additional 33 The Marksman screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 120,000+ already in our library), 120 exclusive 4K UHD reviews, and more, subscribe on Patreon.