Directed by Robert Lorenz, “The Marksman,” starring Liam Neeson, is another instance of a well-known actor trying to reinvigorate his career with a classic protagonist role. The film centers around a Marine soldier who takes it upon himself to escort a child to Chicago while being pursued by a cartel. The plot may feel drawn out at times due to the lack of substantial events beyond the central storyline. The story is very linear, and the ending can be predicted pretty easily. Anyway, without wasting much of your time, let’s jump right into the plot.

Spoilers Ahead

The Marksman (2021) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis

The film starts with a Mexican youngster named Miguel coming back to his home from school, where his mother, Rosa, is speaking with his uncle. Rosa’s brother tells her to leave the house with Miguel and cross the border so that they can outrun the cartel that wants to eliminate the whole family. Meanwhile, we see Jim Hanson, a retired US Marine Corps Scout Sniper and Vietnam War veteran, residing on the Arizona-Mexico border with his dog, Jackson, as a widower. He spends his days managing his ranch, which he’s currently struggling to keep up with payments for.

He regularly notifies the United States Border Patrol about any illegal border crossings. Even his daughter Sarah is a higher rank officer in this division. Jim doesn’t have any friends to hang out with, and he does not carry any phone with him. So, even for Sarah, it is pretty hard to get hold of his old man. Jim reminiscences about his days with Sarah’s mother and how happy he used to be. He is looking for any kind of work so that he can pay the loan and save his house. One day, suddenly, while on patrol, he meets with Miguel and his mother, Rosa, at the border.

What does Rosa want Jim to do for Miguel?

Rosa and Miguel, with the help of a smuggler, reach close to the border. They are just a few steps away from putting their feet on US soil. However, the smuggler sees a cartel car, and he wants to turn back. Rosa does not want to go back again as she knows the cartel will eventually find them if they stay in Mexico. Rosa finds a way to sneak onto US soil and meets with Jim, who is on patrol. Jim stops her and calls other patrol officers who can help Rosa with her bleeding feet.

Right at this moment, the cartel car finds them talking on the other side of the fence. Mauricio, the leader of the gang, asks Jim to hand Rosa and Miguel over to them. A shootout begins, leading to the death of Mauricio’s younger brother. Jim asks Rosa and Miguel to enter his car, and they run away. Mauricio tries to stop Jim but fails to do so.

Later, we find out that during the shootout, Rosa took a bullet in her guts and was bleeding quite heavily. Rosa gives Jim an address in Chicago and asks him to drop Miguel there, or else the cartel will harm him. Rosa dies, and later, Jim hands Miguel over to the patrolling officers and Sarah. Jim is an honest man with a military background, so he does not want to smuggle someone.

Why does Jim change his mind about Miguel?

Jim stays outside the patrolling office the whole night, and in the morning, he finds Rosa’s bag, which is filled with cash. Jim realizes that if he delivers Miguel to the said location, he can take this money, and his conscience will be cleared as he will not think that he has stolen the money. But, soon, he changes his mind and decides to stay put. However, he sees a cartel member enter the scene and realizes that Miguel is perhaps not in safe hands. He goes inside and leaves the building from the backside, taking Miguel with him.

Mauricio notices the whole thing from the other side of the fence and, subsequently, bribes corrupt patrol officers to enter the United States. Jim, on the other hand, informs Sarah that he will be delivering the boy in a more safe environment. He knows that since Miguel has been deported to Mexico again, the cartel will surely find him and do something bad. Jim can not let this happen, as no matter how reluctant he is, he has promised a dead mother about her son’s safety. So, the chase begins.

How does Jim save themselves from getting caught?

The Marksman (2021) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “The Marksman” (2021)

Knowing that the cartel will eventually follow them, Jim gathers his staff and leaves for Chicago. However, Jim’s use of his credit card for truck repairs leads Mauricio to trace them to Route 66 in Oklahoma. Jim’s escape is abruptly halted when a patrol officer pulls them over and persuades him to accompany him in his car, saying that he needs to talk to Miguel alone. Later, Jim realizes that this is all a plan to hand them over to the cartel. He sees the officer contacting the cartel, too.

Knowing that the officer is already corrupt, Jim confronts him, which leads to a one-on-one fight. Jim’s dog helps him by biting the officer’s leg. Later, Jim and Miguel manage to escape to a nearby hill, where they witness the cartel members arrive. They observe the gang interrogate the officer before fatally shooting him. Mauricio finds a map book that Miguel has been carrying the whole time and accidentally leaves it on the spot before running away.

How does Jackson Die?

Jim and Miguel do not stop anywhere and finally end up in a motel. Jim pays extra cash at the motel so that they can stay there without giving any ID. Later that night, Jim calls Sarah as she warns her about the cartel and makes him understand to hand over Miguel as it is already going out of control. Jim, too, understands that he cannot protect Miguel alone for much longer. So, he decides to drop the dream of reaching Chicago and hand Miguel over to Sarah.

Later that night, the cartel finds them there, and during the escape, they kill Jackson, Hanson’s dog. This leads to a brawl between Jim and Jackson where Jim fails to understand Miguel’s position as he too is suffering from the loss of his dear friend, his dog. However, later, they shake off their misunderstanding as together they burn all the cartel money that was found in Rosa’s bag. Jim is now more sure than ever that he needs to reach Chicago so that Miguel is safe. He even trains him how to shoot.

The Marksman (2021) Movie Ending Explained:

What happens to Mauricio?

Meanwhile, Mauricio finds out that inside the map book, there is a marker over Chicago, which makes him realize where Jim and Miguel are headed. He activates his men in Chicago, and just when Jim’s car crosses the highway before entering Chicago, they inform Mauricio. Jim sees that some men are noticing his car from the overbridge, so he is ready for any interference. He takes an exit so that there are more chances to escape from any fatal attack. He sees Mauricio’s car following them.

Jim’s truck’s radiator patch fails while they try to flee, so they have to stop now.  Jim shoots Mauricio’s driver from far away as their car crashes heavily on the road. Jim and Miguel run to a nearby farm where Mauricio’s men die when a gunfight breaks out. Since Mauricio captures Miguel, Jim throws his gun. Jim gets stabbed, but with the help of Miguel, he manages to shoot Mauricio.

Jim gives Mauricio a choice right after he returns his medal of honor that he stole from his house. Being a soldier, Jim mentions that either he will finish Mauricio off with the last bullet in his gun or Mauricio can shoot Jim. Either way, Miguel will run free as he does not want him involved in this killing business. Even when provoked before, Miguel had every opportunity to shoot Mauricio, but he did not.

This goodness somehow intrigues Mauricio into taking his own life instead of killing Jim. Because, at the end of the day, Mauricio has admired Jim for being a Marine, and now he truly believes in him after the kindness he showed toward him right at the end. Mauricio said before that he was not given a choice but to become a soldier to protect the cartel. But, Jim’s determination to give Miguel a choice for his future has perhaps triggered the goodness deep inside Mauricio.

Is Jim still Alive in the End?

After getting rid of the cartel, Jim finally stands at the address given to him by Rosa. He and Miguel finally arrive at Miguel’s family’s house in Chicago. Just before Miguel is about to enter the house, he looks back and does not find Jim standing there. Later, we see Jim board a bus, and on the seat, he looks at the stab wound from the earlier fight with Mauricio. There were multiple stabs, leading to a lot of blood loss.

We see him close his eyes at the end of the film, hinting that he is finally at peace. He gives his medal of honor to Miguel as a sign of goodbye. Being an old person, the amount of blood loss and transferring his own pride to another- everything hints at one thing only. In the end, Jim dies in peace. However, it is not shown in the film, and there is a chance that if any sequel comes later, Jim can be brought back to life. However, this is a better ending. His task is over. Let the man rest.

Read More: Everything Coming to Prime Video in March 2024


The Marksman (2021) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Cast of The Marksman (2021) Movie: Liam Neeson, Jacob Perez, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba, Teresa Ruiz
The Marksman (2021) Movie Genre: Action/Mystery & thriller, Runtime: 1h 47m
Where to watch The Marksman

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