CLEVELAND — When Cleveland native Danny Kravitz set out to write 'The Marksman,' he never dreamt his first major motion picture would star Liam Neeson, and that it would top the box office for its first two weeks in theaters.
In a wide-ranging interview, Kravitz gets candid about what it was like to see his dream become a reality near his hometown of Pepper Pike, Ohio, and the nuances of the message behind what could be easily dismissed by the naked eye as "just another action film."
"Being in Ohio, aesthetically, it’s beautiful. And so there was just this fall, Cleveland gorgeousness happening," Kravitz said, speaking of filming in Lorain, Portage County and Chardon, Ohio in late 2019.
In a plotline that stems from the realities of controversy over how to handle individuals seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border, the first-time screenwriter highlights the human element at the center of American immigration policy, the competing interests at play, and how for the most vulnerable among us, it can be a matter of life and death.
In 'The Marksman,' Neeson’s character, Jim Hanson, is initially indifferent to a mother (played by Teresa Ruiz) and son, Miguel (played by Jacob Perez), who enter the US illegally on his land to escape being murdered by members of a drug cartel.
But then, a switch flips and all of a sudden Neeson's Jim is worried about the integrity of the US immigration system and the difficulty of seeking asylum. This is complicated by the fact that Jim’s step daughter, Sarah (played by Katheryn Winnick), works as an agent for US Customs and Border Patrol.
"In terms of watching the film being made, watching Liam (Neeson) and Jacob and Rob (Lorenz), and Mark Patten, the cinematographer, you know, watching them work... As a screenwriter, you don’t always get to be up close for that stuff, and certainly with your first film, I wouldn’t say it’s common," Kravitz said.
"My [writing] partner (Chris Charles) and I got that privilege, and it was amazing. Watching Liam Neeson and Jacob bring these characters to life, [in] the fun action scenes, but also in the tender moments between them, or the kind of really nuanced emotional scenes between them, it was like watching a master class in acting. And in your head it’s kind of like stick figures a little bit and not really lit, it’s kind of black and white-ish, and then it just comes alive like you’re in a dream."
Kravitz's film, co-written with Chris Charles with assistance from director Robert Lorenz and distributed by Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment, has stayed at the top of the box office through its first five week of release, according to Box Office Mojo.
Kravitz said the film will be released soon for on-demand streaming rentals. The available date and platform to watch have not yet been announced.