Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence & offensive language
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.
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.