A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Raise the question of why, if they follow all the rules, people sometimes still wind up with the short end of the stick. But there's never any question that people should continue to move forward by following rules and trying to do the right thing. Violence has repercussions. Reinforces "White savior" plot cliches.
Positive Role Models
Jim Hanson is a law-abiding man with a good heart. He barely hesitates before taking on a dangerous good deed. He perhaps resorts to violence a little too quickly, but he pays a price for that. Although some of the movie's immigrant characters are viewed sympathetically, the ones who seem, intended to be perceived as "good" (aside from Miguel) aren't on screen long enough to become well-developed characters. And the villains are total one-note cliches.
Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting; characters are shot and killed, sometimes with bloody wounds. Character hung by wrists on a chain. Villain strangles a young woman. Character slices her leg on fence (blood shown). Bloody animal corpses. Character shoots dog (offscreen), followed by dog burial. Bloody, wounded foot. Stabbing. Fighting. Car crash with fire. An 11-year-old boy is briefly taken hostage. Dialogue about main character's wife who died of cancer.
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One use of "f--k," and a few uses of "s--t," "ass," "bastard," "goddamn," "damn," "hell," "crap," and "piss."
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Products & Purchases
Pop Tarts prominently shown in one scene.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character drinks shots/whiskey in a bar and from a flask. He gets sleepy-drunk in more than one scene, but no other consequences.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Marksman is an action/thriller starring Liam Neeson as a White man who agrees to transport an 11-year-old Mexican immigrant from Arizona to Chicago while pursued by members of a killer cartel. It's well-made, but cliches in the story and the oversimplified representation of characters of color (as well as the White savior elements of the plot) eventually sink it. Expect to see lots of guns and shooting, bloody wounds, stabbing, fighting, and animal corpses. A woman is shot and killed, and another is strangled. A dog is shot and killed offscreen. A boy is briefly in peril, and there's dialogue about a woman dying of cancer. Language is strong but infrequent, with one use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "ass," "hell," etc. The main character drinks in a few scenes and seems to get sleepy-drunk, but there are no other consequences. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Thanks to Robert Lorenz's smooth, simple direction and Neeson's appealing, sympathetic bond with young Perez, this action-thriller, which is steeped in cliché from top to bottom, very nearly gets by. Lorenz, a producer and/or assistant director on many Clint Eastwood movies, channels his mentor with The Marksman, using unhurried, classical storytelling and treating the creaky old material with care. Neeson's Jim Hanson is shown both with an American flag draped over his shoulder (as the bank tries to take his ranch away) and showing concern for an injured immigrant ... even as he calls border patrol.
Perez is a sweet kid who's positively portrayed, but too little time is spent on other characters of color, and the Mexican villains are crushingly one-note: They're depicted as pure evil with no humanity. Neeson is fine in his low-key role: Hanson is a good man at heart (like Tom Hanks' similar role in News of the World) who just happens to be handy with firearms. The actor's fans will be pleased with the traditional shootout ending, which is presented neatly and without cluttery shaky-cam or choppy editing. But even as The Marksman wraps up, it already starts to fade from memory.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.