The cliches fly like bullets in “Trouble With the Curve” director Robert Lorenz’s formulaic cartel thriller “The Marksman” (** OUT OF ****), with rugged Liam Neeson as a troubled ex-Marine who swaps lead with murderous Mexican cartel killers on a road trip to Chicago. Tom Hanks took an orphan girl across Texas to her relatives in “News of the World,” and Neeson takes a Mexican boy from Arizona to Illinois in this modern-day crime melodrama.

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When a mom and her son scramble across the border on foot with cartel gunmen at their heels, a widowed American rancher, Jim Hanson intervenes with his rifle and thwarts their pursuit with gunfire. Now, “The Marksman” isn’t a movie bristling with wall-to-wall violence. Several people die, and some die off-screen.

Nevertheless, this predictable but complicated, PG-rated, pursuit yarn often stretches credibility to the breaking point. Lorenz and freshman writers Chris Charles and Danny Kravitz give us nothing we haven’t seen already in gritty, suspenseful sagas like “No Country for Old Men” (2007), “Savages” (2012), “End of Watch” (2012),“The Last Stand” (2013), Sicario” (2015), its sequel “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” (2018), “Miss Bala (2019), “Peppermint” (2018), and “Rambo: Last Blood” (2019).

Instead, Lorenz and company recycle moldy cliches and stale stereotypes, with few surprises. Occasionally, our seasoned hero has some “Rambo” moments, but few and far between are these. Our protagonist often behaves like he has never seen a television crime show. This 107-minute movie may unravel your patience.

Not only has our hero forgotten everything he learned in two tours of Vietnam, but he also doesn’t realize they are tracking him via his credit card purchases. Indeed, the Liam Neeson character makes several appalling mistakes during his flight that will infuriate audiences who craved his “Taken” movies.

Jim (Liam Neeson of “Cold Pursuit”) has fallen on hard times with no relief in sight. After cancer claimed his wife, an avalanche of medical bills descended on him, and he cannot pay them. Now, his friendly banker warns him he is 90 days away from eviction from hearth and home.

Basically, Jim is a lost soul when he nearly runs down a young migrant woman, Rosa (Teresa Ruiz of “Bordertown”), and her 11-year-old son Miguel (newcomer Jacob Perez) who have abandoned everything in their flight to Arizona. Rosa’s ill-fated brother Carlos (Alfredo Quiroz of “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) who served as a courier for the cartel let his greed doom him.

Moments before the cartel catches up with him, Carlos warns Rosa to vamos before they come for their pound of flesh. The cartel makes examples of their own when they betray them. Jim didn’t have enough to worry about before he nearly collided with Rosa and Miguel in the road, he does now.

Basically, the border wall fence lines Jim’s ranch in southern Arizona, and the rancher is dutifully making his rounds when he catches these innocents trespassing. During a brief firefight, Jim drives off the killers, but not before poor Rosa takes a slug and dies at the scene.

Mind you, things are about to get far worse. Now, Jim wrestles with his conscience because he feels responsible for Rosa’s death. The cartel retreat to lick their wounds, and Jim calls the Border Patrol. Before she died, Rosa had pleaded desperately with Jim to help them. Now, as guilt sets in, Jim realizes he must help Rosa’s son. If Miguel is deported back to Mexico, the cartel will turn him into one of their own.

Up until this point, “The Marksman” has shown promise. We want our tough guy hero with a heart of gold to save Miguel and slaughter these cartel crazies. However, everything falters when Jim asks to see Miguel at the Border Patrol Station. Just before he walks into the facility, Jim spots Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba of “Peppermint”) and his minions waiting outside the station.

Now, all the Border Patrol Agents are chummy with Jim because his stepdaughter, Sarah (Katheryn Winnick of “Failure to Launch”), works there as a Border Patrol Agent, too. Inside the station, a Border Patrolman against his better impulses gives Jim a moment with Miguel because he must catch an urgent call.

Our hero displays his sense of audacity when he ushers little Miguel out of the holding room as well as the Border Patrol Station in plain sight of everybody. Nobody spots him on the surveillance monitors, and he cruises off with Miguel sitting beside him in his battered pick-up truck.

Mind you, during the abortive firefight at the border, the cartel riddled Jim’s truck with a hail of gunfire. Incredibly, Jim hasn’t bothered to repair the damage, so he has been driving around with a punctured radiator, but he hasn’t noticed it leaking! Jim plans to take Miquel to his relatives in Chicago, but Miquel isn’t talking to him.

Miguel holds Jim responsible for his mother’s death. Nevertheless, these two will forge a friendship that defies ethnicity and age. Jim makes his second mistake when he trusts his truck to hold together with a patch job after Mauricio and company had peppered it with bullet holes.

Incidentally, Jim doesn’t have a cell phone because he has no one to call. One of the grimmest scenes occurs when Mauricio pumps a vulnerable female gas station clerk full of bullets when she refuses to help him.

Like Mauricio’s hoodlums, we are outside the convenience store when the gun shots ring out with ominous clarity. If the villains were despicable when they strung up Carlos from an overpass, the murder of the helpless girl makes them cold-blooded dastards. Eventually, our noble hero catches a slug in the gut, and Mauricio dices him up with a knife to ribs.

A sentimental saga with a dreary ending, “The Marksman” never scores enough bullseyes to keep us engrossed in his plight. If you abhor movies where you can guess the outcome long before the heroes and the villains, you’re going to be grumbling throughout “The Marksman.”

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