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The Marksman: Liam Neeson sets his sights on another major hit with movie audiences


Liam Neeson with Jacob Perez in The Marksman

Liam Neeson with Jacob Perez in The Marksman

Liam Neeson with Jacob Perez in The Marksman

Ballymena action star Liam Neeson is set to thrill audiences in the cinema once again, with the release of his latest thriller, The Marksman.

As the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine gives hope that larger crowds will once again flock to the silver screen in 2021, Neeson's latest offerings sees him take on a deadly Mexican drug cartel.

It's now been 12 years since the phenomenal, and unexpected, success of Taken made the Northern Ireland actor an action superstar.

Two sequels and almost a billion dollars at the box office later, it's a formula that audiences still can't get enough of.

In The Marksman, Neeson plays Jim Hanson - a grizzled Arizona rancher and former Marine patrolling the American-Mexican border with a cowboy hat and rifle at the ready.

Despite having little patience for illegal immigrants, he takes pity on a young mother and son fleeing from a heavily armed cartel gang.

But the one thing they didn't count on, you've guessed it, is that Neeson's past as a Marine sees him equipped with a very particular set of skills.

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Perhaps telling viewers everything they need to know in a single line of dialogue, he drawls: "I was in the Marine Corps, so I suggest you all turn around and adios."

There's even a not so subtle nod to Taken in the trailer clip as Neeson's character is warned that a vicious cartel assassin will find him and will kill him.

After a decade-long conveyor belt of copy and paste action flicks, critics calling Neeson predictable has now become routine. But as long as he still wants to strike fear into the hearts of henchmen everywhere, and the box office returns keep ticking, who has the nerve to stop him?

Directed by Robert Lorenz, the film is currently set for a January 22 release.

Not far off his 70th year, the Co Antrim actor previously admitted that these days he's happy to leave much of the heavy lifting on set to his stuntman.

"I don't do all the Tom Cruise stuff, the whole: 'Hey, let me hang from that helicopter or airplane and show the audience it's really me'."

But keeping in shape, he said, was still key to convincing audiences on screen.

"If you're playing the lead in films, whether there's fight scenes or not, it does require a certain stamina," he said.

"You work 11 to 13-hour days, and if you're the lead you're there every day. It's beholden to you to have stamina. The crew certainly do."

He also revealed his secret to staying sane during the pandemic was reading and power walking. "I have my two sons, now 24 and 25. And I have always found pleasure just from books," he said,

"I'm aware I'm very, very lucky. I have a house that's been paid off, I have a few acres I can walk around in, I have a swimming pool, a good gym and a screening room," he said. Earlier this year, Neeson returned to more dramatic fare with Made in Italy alongside his son Micheal Richardson.

The film sees a father and son coping with the loss of their wife and mother, and proved to be a cathartic experience.

Natasha Richardson - Liam's wife and Micheal's mother - died in a freak skiing accident in 2009. "The subject matter was, is very close to home," said Neeson at the time. "You know, losing my wife, Micheal losing his mother, that is part of the story of Made In Italy. It was quite cathartic in many ways for both of us. It touches on very, very delicate stuff."

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