The Commuter, 2018.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
Starring Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, and Jonathan Banks.
A man gets caught in a criminal conspiracy on his usual commuter route home.
I’m going to assume that everyone opening this review is asking the same question. Is this just Taken on a train? A fair question given the way this film has been marketed as looking similar to Unknown, The Grey and Non-Stop which have all had this accusation levelled at them. Personally I am all for Liam Neeson to dot the next 10 years of his career with these kinds of films as he has done the last 10. I can’t wait for 10 years from now when he’s smashing random henchman round the head with his walking stick, which is also his deadliest weapon.
The Commuter starts off showing us the routine but also the big changes that occur each day as Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) heads to his commute into the office. Seeing the ups and downs of his daily life very quickly is relatable to anyone who does this kind of journey, followed by showing us the familiarity he has with his fellow regular commuters. Things quickly go pear-shaped for Michael though when he is “let go” from his insurance firm job at age 60, leaving him to trudge home on his commute to tell his wife the bad news.
Things get even more dicey from here when he’s approached on the train by a mysterious woman going by Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who’s hypothetical questioning leads him down a much darker path of accepting money in his desperate moment to find someone for them and leave a marker on them which will mean that the person ends up dead.
The films moves from there into a section of small twists, red herrings mixed with some good moments of tension, some pretty fun actions scenes and some downright (unintentionally) hilarious dialogue. The plot is quite paint by numbers but it’s well executed especially in the middle section of Michael trying to work out who the person this mysterious group is after.
The dialogue though, especially in the final act, cranked it up to 1oo with full on action/thriller movie clichés. I laughed out loud 3 times towards the end as did several people I watched it with though I found that it was endearing mostly as I took the moments as tongue-in-cheek when they may not have been. Liam Neeson is gruff and tough just like he is in his other action movies. The characters all blur together now but he is just so compelling at doing this kind of role the context stops mattering. He keeps thing moving forward at a pace where you don’t have time to catch your breath.
At just over an hour and half The Commuter is very quick, full of moments with Liam Neeson doing what only he can do. He makes what could easily be a very linear and average film into being a hell of a lot of fun, with some great moments of tension mixed in with all his excellent action timings.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Spencer-Skeen – Follow me on Twitter