Tag Archives: Jonathan Banks

The Commuter (2018) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley
Vera Farmiga as Joanna
Patrick Wilson as Det. Lt. Alex Murphy
Jonathan Banks as Walt
Sam Neill as Captain David Hawthorne
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Insurance salesman Michael (Liam Neeson) is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train.

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I’d been meaning to watch The Commuter for a while. It’s a Liam Neeson action movie which would be his 4th collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed him previously in action flicks Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night. The Commuter was pretty much Liam Neeson on a train so naturally I was wanting to check it out, and it was pretty much what I was expecting it to be. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s nonetheless rather entertaining and Liam Neeson is good as always.

Much of this movie is a thriller, more than an action movie really, and it keeps the tension raised throughout. It keeps the entire story contained within the train, and throughout almost all of the movie is just set inside that train. While you can sort of figure out how certain things are going to play out and the story overall is not a complete surprise, it’s not entirely predictable what’s going to happen. Throughout the 105 minute runtime, you’re entertained quite a bit. There’s not a ton to the story or to the characterisation but there didn’t need to be.

Liam Neeson is typically good in yet another action role. Neeson is no stranger to these kind of roles however his character in The Commuter is a bit different to those. His character was once a cop but now is an insurance agent. So while he as ‘a particular set of skills’, he’s not at the top of his game with them. Also he actually does seem quite vulnerable and desperate in his situation, despite all of his skills, he doesn’t ever really feel that he’s on top of everything that’s going on. Something that took me off guard was the number of other actors I recognised in the movie, mostly because we don’t actually get a lot of screentime with most of them. I mean at least Vera Farmiga had a presence throughout the movie (even if she isn’t seen a lot) and Patrick Wilson was involved in some major scenes. However some of the castings were odd, like Jonathan Banks gets a really small role that could’ve been played by anyone, and Sam Neill plays a Police Captain who’s in like 2 scenes. That’s not to say that the performances were bad or that they phoned them in, because they weren’t, they all played their roles to the best of their abilities and were pretty good. It’s just personally it was a little distracting seeing so many recognisable faces pop up only briefly in the movie.

The direction as to be expected by Jaume Collet-Serra is good. He navigates the film inside this one train very well and it really does place the movie there for like 95% of the time. There aren’t many fight scenes or really action scenes but they are generally done quite well. There is particularly one fight scene that was done all in one shot, and you can tell that it was Liam Neeson and the other actor doing their own stunts, no stunt doubles were involved, and it was just really great to watch. The movie might actually be worth watching for that scene alone. While The Commuter mostly keeps itself as a contained thriller, it does go off the rails in the third act, mainly in one incredibly over the top action scene. While the movie doesn’t use CGI for most of the movie, when it is used it’s noticeably dreadful. It’s mostly in the aforementioned sequence ‘off the rails’ segment where everything looked so incredibly fake. Thankfully it’s just that one scene which was over the top, everything else has the direction being pretty good.

The Commuter is a fun little thriller, that is directed reasonably well, is entertaining and Liam Neeson is effortlessly good here. It’s not really anything that you’ll remember weeks or even days after watching it but if you are a fun of Liam Neeson action flicks like the director’s Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night, or even Taken (the film that made Neeson an action star), this is definitely something you need to watch as soon as you can because you’ll have a blast with it.

Incredibles 2 (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible
Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr
Huck Milner as Dashiell “Dash” Parr
Eli Fucile as Jack-Jack Parr
Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone
Bob Odenkirk as Winston Deavor
Catherine Keener as Evelyn Deavor
Brad Bird as Edna Mode
Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker
Director: Brad Bird

Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

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Incredibles 2 was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I recently rewatched the original Incredibles after many long years and it surprised me how great it is and how well it still holds up. People have been waiting 14 years for a sequel but finally in 2018 they are getting it. Despite a part of me being quite looking forward to it, at the same time I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. With the voice actors returning but most importantly Incredibles writer and director Brad Bird returning, it definitely had the potential to work really well. So I remained cautiously optimistic about the sequel. Thankfully it worked out well, much better than I thought it would be in fact. Brad Bird delivers a sequel which more than lives up to the original film, with it trying new things, while still feeling like an Incredibles movie with its entertainment factor, humour, smart writing and also appealing to all ages. The biggest surprise is that it’s at about the same level as the original film. If you loved the original film, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love the sequel as well.

This feels like a true sequel to the Incredibles. It’s not really much of a spoiler as its right at the beginning of the movie but it picks off right where the first movie ended. This movie is clearly in the same world but at the same time the story is quite different from the first movie’s. The first movie was like a mix between the Fantastic Four and a less dark and less bloody version of Watchmen. It involved superheroes who were all the rage in the past but are nowadays outlawed. In the sequel it picks up pretty soon after the first movie, and there is a push to make superheroes legal again. Unlike the first movie where Mr Incredible was in the forefront, this time its Elastigirl in the role whereas Mr Incredible has to learn to take care of the kids. These different changes are entertaining and interesting, providing a still entertaining movie which is different enough from the original. You can definitely tell that Brad Bird wrote this movie because its keeping in spirit with the original movie. Like the first movie, there is a lot of satirising of the superhero genre and it works just as well here. Like the first movie, it’s entertaining from start to finish, and all of it works very well. The humour like the first movie works well and none of it falls flat. Like the first movie, it appeals to all ages, adults can enjoy this as much as the kids, maybe even more as they could probably pick up some references that only they would recognise. To stop myself from repeating myself more than I already have, I’ll just say that almost everything great about the first movie is here, plus a different story.

The characters, like in the first movie, are still good. While characters like Mr Incredible, Elastigirl and Frozone are good, Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack really get their chances to shine. Jack-Jack in particular gets much more screentime here compared to the original, and has a lot of stand out moments due to his new powers, while not feeling so overused that he feels obnoxious, it’s a good balance. The weak link here (and so far on my one viewing the only notable fault in the movie from what I’ve noticed) is the villain. Granted following up a villain like Syndrome is very difficult but there are still some parts about the character which don’t work greatly on its own. While the villain works well enough for the story, the motivations were just okay, the character wasn’t very memorable, entertaining or compelling, was kind of forgettable and the reveal is predictable. But this is a minor issue, the villain doesn’t bring the movie down by any means, it’s just with the movie otherwise having pretty much everything else on point, this really stands out as being not as good as it could’ve been. The voice actors all work well, with most of the main voice actors of the original film (with the exception of the voice actor for Dash) returning. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson working well and despite it being 14 years later, sound like they haven’t aged a day.

You can also tell that Brad Bird reprised his role as director of Incredibles 2. It’s been 14 years since the original Incredibles, and with that, animation has really improved. The original movie still holds up reasonably well as an animated movie, and the sequel builds upon the animation capabilities nowadays while very much keeping the same style. It’s very fluid, fast and smooth, and it is endlessly entertaining to watch. On a side note, and this isn’t really a criticism, but I think each of the characters have had a slight redesign, and it’s not like the sequel takes place 5 years later. It’s a non issue, just a random thing I noticed.

Incredibles 2 is a great follow up to the original Incredibles, everything that made the first movie amazing and beloved returns in the sequel. All things considered, Incredibles 1 and 2 might just be on the same level, the only real fault that stood out was the disappointing but okay villain. Outside of that both movies are really great animated movies for all ages. I hope we get a third movie sometime soon, hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for it.