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THE MARKSMAN: 2 STARS. “a series of competently staged set pieces.”

“The Marksman,” a new Liam Neeson action pic now on VOD, doesn’t aim quite high enough to hit the mark.

Neeson is Jim Hanson, a former Marine, now living on the Arizona border with Mexico. He’s fond of a drink and calling the border patrol when he sees migrants entering the country on foot. His life changes when he gets up close-and-personal with a woman (Teresa Ruiz) and her son Miguel (Jacob Perez) who are on the lam from a drug cartel. Despite his police officer daughter’s (Katheryn Winnick) warnings to stay put, he hits the road, going head-to-head with Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba), a blood thirsty cartel soldier with a personal score to settle. Why does Jim do it? “I don’t scare easy,” he says.

Director Robert Lorenz made his bones working as an assistant or first unit director for Clint Eastwood and it shows. “The Markman” feels like Eastwood Lite; a grizzled tough guy with a special set of skills thriller that sat on Clint’s slush pile for years. All that’s missing is a cool take-away quote like, “Get off my lawn.”

Neeson has the gravitas to make you believe he doesn’t scare easily but the story feels inert, like a series of competently staged set pieces held together by the leading actor’s presence and not much else. What’s missing is forward momentum. “The Marksman” is a road movie but one that takes the meandering back roads to get where it is going.

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