The Commuter centres on Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson), an ex-cop turned insurance salesman who has spent the last 10 years riding the same train to and from work. One day he is confronted by a woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who asks MacCauley a “hypothetical” question that quickly becomes very real and extremely deadly.
Jaume Callet-Serra’s latest opens with a perfectly sequenced montage to establish late-career action star, Liam Neeson. As a family man, I feel an instant connection to who he is, and what he is about, but that’s where the connection stops. This is star and directors fourth collaboration and there is no doubt they work well together. Callet-Serra’s competent direction coupled with Neeson’s everlasting reliability is something you cannot go wrong with, but, only if you have the ability to switch off and just enjoy it as pure entertainment.
Like Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night before it, The Commuter offers a fun ride and Neeson breezes his way through the part with ease – a part that he has played consistently for the last decade. The train setting also suits the aging action hero, confined spaces mean his age doesn’t really factor into it when fighting for his life. The action sequences are well choreographed and were thoroughly enjoyable, though there is not too much in the way of fighting, it’s certainly no Under Siege 2: Dark Territory which is something we should be thankful for. In saying that we should also be thankful that Neeson is no Steven Segal. The Commuter relies more on thrills than kills and I must admit I was, occasionally, on the edge of my seat.
Patrick Wilson tags along for the ride as MacCauley’s old partner and best mate – Alex Murphy. I am a fan of Patrick Wilson and have been since The Alamo, Hard Candy and more recently The Hollow Point and he doesn’t let me down here. As per usual, he offers some good support work trying to help MacCauley from the other end of a phone line. Farmiga also offers great support in her role of Joanna though she only a voice for the most part. Sam Neill also climbs aboard to play the seemingly untrustworthy Captain Hawthorne and he plays the role perfectly. It is a shame that Neill is not in more blockbuster films as he still has a lot to offer.
The film still has its fair share of plot holes, adding to the plots questionable elements. Without giving away any spoilers, I felt that the entire plan that the antagonists had for MacCauley was unnecessary and that such ruthless enemies would have been more ruthless to begin with – but at least they didn’t put snakes on the train, that would make a terrible movie. Asking what they were asking of MacCauley was a huge stretch, after all, his former line of work (police officer) should have told them this from the get go, no matter how many carrots they dangle in front of him. This was a point of frustration throughout the film, but that was really the only issue.
If you have the ability to just switch off then The Commuter is an enjoyable action thriller. If you have liked any of Neeson’s films since Taken then you know exactly what you’re in for. Just sit down and enjoy the ride.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Writers: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle