The Marksman

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Marksman Movie Poster Image
Guns and violence in well-made but cliche-ridden thriller.
  • PG-13
  • 2021
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

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.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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.


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.


One use of "f--k," and a few uses of "s--t," "ass," "bastard," "goddamn," "damn," "hell," "crap," and "piss."


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byChad B February 11, 2021

"Woke" reviews by Commonsense media

It's pretty sad that the "wokeness" has now even hit common sense media reviews done by it's staff. I will now stop all donations that I mak... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byltcolkep January 15, 2021

Maybe a little short of 4 stars

Actually a pretty good movie. The good guy has struggles in his life and the situation. Neeson’s portrayal of the impossible situation calmly keeps the tension... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In THE MARKSMAN, former U.S. Marine Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson) is now a rancher living on the Arizona border and struggling with paying the bills after his late wife's long illness. He happens upon a young mother, Rosa (Teresa Ruiz), and her 11-year-old son, Miguel (Jacob Perez), crossing the border from Mexico. Rosa begs him not to call the border patrol because she and her son are being pursued by evil cartel leader Maurico (Juan Pablo Raba) in retaliation for Rosa's brother stealing a bagful of money. When Rosa is shot, she asks Jim to take Miguel to live with family in Chicago. Jim reluctantly agrees, over the objections of his step-daughter, Sarah (Katheryn Winnick). But first Jim must keep Miguel, and himself, safe from the villains pursuing them.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Marksman's violence. Did it feel thrilling or shocking? How much is directed at women? At animals? How does that affect its impact on you?

  • How are immigrants and/or people of color depicted in the film? Did you notice any stereotypes? How do stereotypes counteract attempts at diverse representation?

  • How is drinking depicted? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences for drinking? Why does that matter?

  • How did you feel about the main character teaching the 11-year-old boy how to handle a gun?

  • What's the appeal of Neeson as an action hero? How is he different from other movie action heroes? Do you think his character here can be seen as representing the "White savior" cliche?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate