Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farminga, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neil, Jonathan Banks
Trailer: Click here
Runtime/Rating: 1hr 45min / PG-13
In The Commuter, Liam Neeson is once again just an average(ish) guy, trying to go about his daily life, however people can never just seem to leave him be. (I think Keanu Reeves might be inheriting a similar affliction with John Wick).
This time around, Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, a family man who has taken the same commuter train to work every day for the last 10 years. He knows all the regulars, and he can pick out new faces. One day, after he’s surprisingly let go from his job, a mysterious woman (played by Vera Farmiga) on the train home asks him to play a “simple” game using his knowledge of the passengers: pick out a specific person who doesn’t belong, and get $100,000. Of course, it’s never that simple.
The plot: interesting but predictable, with too much left unanswered.
The story is a simple enough premise that works fine; it just could have been executed better. For one, entirely too much time is devoted to MacCauley having no idea what to do. There’s enough time for you to come up with your own strategy before he figures one out himself. It’s good to create tension, and a sense of “how in the world will he get out of this?” but the middle of the movie felt like at least 15 mins of Neeson looking around the train with crazy eyes, scrambling for a solution.
Once the plot details of who the woman works for and what she really wants starts to be revealed, you’ll want to know more. The problem is, nothing more than a surface level explanation is ever given. Maybe they’re hoping for a sequel; I could see how they might do one. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Tone, cinematography, etc
The tone at the end of the movie is very different from how it starts, making The Commuter feel like two different movies. It starts out as a slow burn thriller, and then dramatically shifts gears into roller coaster action. If you watch the movie expecting it to be solely one or the other, you might be disappointed.
The film also suffers from shaky cam in places it’s definitely not needed: like during a scene at a bar. I will admit that I only noticed it at the beginning, so it didn’t ruin the movie. Another odd observation is that a couple weird camera angles make you feel like you’re watching a hidden camera someone planted to spy on the characters…maybe that’s the feeling you’re supposed to get? If so, making it a little more obvious might help.
The cast helps you forget the movie’s weaknesses.
The Commuter has a solid cast, and while their performances are nothing award worthy, it helps to gloss over the movie’s many flaws. I did find myself laughing at one regular on the train who gets angry with Neeson at one point in the film, even calling him an “asshole,” and then a short time later asks Neeson if he want’s to be dealt into the card game he’s playing.
In the end The Commuter is predictable and will be forgotten about by most everyone. Liam Neeson has already done this type of movie several times already and better. The Commuter is essentially Nonstop…but on a train, which is not surprising since they have the same director. However, it is worth a watch, even if the genre is starting to feel stale for Neeson.