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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 9, 2021



AS A late-blooming action star, Liam Neeson is in a league all his own.

We remember him doing supporting roles in various films but his stock was really boosted when he played the title role in “Schindler’s List” for which he got an Oscar best actor nomination. 

He starred in other good films after that, like “Rob Roy”, “Michael Collins”, the non-muiscal version of “Les Miz” and “Star Wars I, Phantom Menace”.

 It was not until “Taken” hit it big worldwide in 2008 that he gained action star status at the age of 56. He’s been since making one or two action dramas a year. 

Some really work, like “The Commuter”, “A Walk Among the Tombstones”, “Run All Night”, “Cold Pursuit”, but the others are just forgettable. 

He’s turning 69 in June and continues to be very prolific, more active than another senior actor-director, Clint Eastwood, who’s turning 91 years old on May 31. 

We’ve just seen two of Liam’s new action-dramas, “Honest Thief” and “The Marksman”. In the first movie, he plays the title role of a professional bank thief who has amassed a huge sum of money but decides to go straight when he falls seriously in love with a woman (Kate Walsh.)

He decides to surrender to the FBI and return all the money he stole to start on a clean slate and put his crimes behind him. In return, he asks for a lenient sentence. 

But a corrupt FBI agent, Nivens (Jai Courtney), becomes greedy and tries to get all the stolen money for himself. He kills another agent and tries to pin the crime on Liam, who has to protect himself and goes on the run. 

In “The Marksman”, Liam plays Jim, a former Marine sniper who’s now a rancher in an Arizona town on the border of Mexico. He’s a widower with a grown up daughter who’s a cop. 

One day, he sees three Mexicans attempting an illegal crossing: Rosa (Teresa Ruiz), her brother Carlos (Alfredo Quiroz) and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez). They are running away from the cartel led by Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba.) 

Jim calls the border police patrol but when he sees the cartel henchmen killing Carlos, he tries to help Rosa and Miguel. Rosa is shot and gets fatally wounded.  

Before she dies, she gives Jim a note with the address of her family in Chicago and makes Jim promise to help Miguel get to her family safely. 

“The Marksman” then becomes a road movie as Jim and Miguel drive to Chicago in Jim’s pickup truck, with the bad guys pursuing them. 

They encounter a corrupt cop along the way and other adventures to give Jim a chance to indulge in some action scenes. In the process, he and Miguel, who initially doesn’t want to talk, become unlikely friends. 

The film’s climax happens in a farm’s barn where Jim and Miguel try to hide and the henchmen get to corner them.

But we all know how both movies would end. Liam has become like James Bond and our own FPJ: unkillable. 

There is still tension in the stories but it’s predictable how they will go. Don’t look for a meaningful story or depth of character. 

Your enjoyment of these formulaic action thrillers will really depend on how much you appreciate seeing Liam put the law into his own hands.

There’s no doubt these films benefit so much from Liam's seasoned charisma that carries them. He makes them worth the watch. 

With him in the lead, any movie can just coast pleasurably even if the narratives are predictable and sometimes drag. 

“The Marksman”, in particular, seems like something you’ve seen before in films like “Man on Fire” (two versions) and “Close” with Noomi Rapace.

Mind you, these films are not incompetently made. They still manage to deliver what action fans expect them to do. 

But even Liam himself now appears like he is most of the time just going through the motions, all within the confines of his tamer comfort zones and safer stomping grounds. 

Maybe, one of these days, he’d get to be more adventurous and foray into the more spectacular Keanu Reeves-John Wick territory.