Liam Neeson keeps "The Commuter" moving

Angelo Anderson
January 13, 2018

Liam Neeson was quick to call the wage gap issue in Hollywood "f**king disgraceful", but quickly shot down the idea of taking a pay cut to achieve parity with his female co-stars. There's a passenger on this train that doesn't belong. This is the fourth collaboration between the director and the actor, and the fact that he hasn't given up on the 65 yr old actor is a telling sign. This time instead of walking back and forth on a train, Neeson has to walk back and forth through every vehicle of a train like a world beaten and put upon Poirot.

Millions of people everyday doing the same thing over and over again.

And like the old adage goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". That's going too far.

As in their 2014 Non-Stop, Neeson's character here, an implausible life-insurance salesman named MacCauley, finds himself sucked into a loopy plot in a tightly confined space (in the earlier film an airplane, here a commuter train running from New York City to upstate suburbia).

One of the great disappointments of "The Commuter" is the structure doesn't allow for much screen time for the talented Farmiga, probably best known for acting opposite George Clooney in 2009's "Up in the Air". Neeson plays Michael as appropriately terrified by his situation; someone who acts on instinct and fear without the benefit of much time to think about what's happening.

"The Commuter" is peppered with ridiculousness, from the same lines being repeated ad nauseum, just in case the theater has a gas leak and audience members are too woozy to pick up on them the first 15 times.

Have you LOOKED at the next month or so of upcoming movies? The Commuter has energy to spare, and Serra works hand in hand with cinematographer Paul Cameron and editor Nicolas De Toth to make sure that there's no wasted motion. It's also pretty obvious who the mystery person ends up being if you've ever seen one of these red herring capers before, but at the very least the cast of oddball suspects is entertaining enough in their own right to carry the movie through the necessary steps. I also doubt that there has been a modern filmmaker more enamoured by creating a sense of paranoia via people texting and talking on cell phones than Serra. The wide-open expanse of the ocean in his previous film is replaced by the claustrophobic setting of a Commuter train.

And yes, the material is quite silly, overstuffed, and admittedly predictable.

The film sees Neeson's character, Michael McCauley, get wrapped up in a risky proposition on his commute from the city to Westchester County when a mysterious stranger offers him $100,000 to identify a certain passenger by the end of the line.

"The Commuter" sounds more tastefully sedate by comparison, but don't be fooled. And what we like is a very tight thriller.

Unless you hate having fun. The Commuter is a good reminded why that happened: He's really good at the who vulnerable-invulnerable guy routine and brings an appropriate level of gravitas that helps sell otherwise shaky but obligatory exposition sequences or pandering beats like getting up in one suspects face because he happens to be a Goldman Sachs broker. The Commuter is the latest of such pieces of Dad Cinema, and though it has a strikingly dumb story to tell, it achieves its primary goal of being a delightful action romp.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article