Review: “The Commuter” Is Instantly Forgettable

Liam Neeson is back in action as a luckless insurance salesman who unwisely accepts a bag of cash only to find his life in danger on the train home.

The CommuterOn his usual commute home after losing his 10 year job as an insurance salesman Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) unwisely accepts a bag of money to uncover the identity of someone on the train. The stakes continue to rise as the train hurtles towards its final destination, but luckily MacCauley is an ex-cop and part time action hero.

Liam Neeson has a very particular set of skills. He has “Taken” these skills to find a cinematic niche of his own after a long successful career. This is the niche of Geriatric-action. As this films reminds you a number of times, his character is 60, but willing to take a good beating and still get back up again for some shaky-cam hand to hand combat.

In Neeson’s fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra the standard remains consistently mediocre but completely satisfying as a B movie thriller. Somewhat oversold as high concept, the star and director have gone through Unknown (no one recognises Neeson), Non-Stop (there’s a killer on Neeson’s plane), Run All Night (Neeson has one night to save his son) and now The Commuter where he has one rail trip home to identify someone on a train (and save his family – come on its Liam Neeson – if he is in a film his family is automatically in jeopardy).

The Commuter

If you expect a B movie thriller with some inventive action, shoddy special effects, twists and turns that exponentially increase in ludicrous fashion, then you won’t be disappointed. There is plenty to enjoy in this film but it’s far from high concept or surprising given the actor-director’s previous work.

The film has a strong opening with Neeson at his most relatable as his family and financial strains grow. Through montage snippets we see his relationship wax and wane as he is dropped at the station to the one thing that remains the same, his commute. The montage captures the mundane as time continues to march on, suddenly jolted by the opening plot gambit. It has Hitchcockian ambitions as the financially troubled and recently fired Neeson is offered money to just identify an individual on a train by a mysterious woman played with intrigue by Vera Farmiga. As the real-time race proceeds so does its initial realistic grasp including Neeson’s everyman-in-peril as he turns action hero.

There is a strong supporting cast including Patrick Wilson, Sam Neil, Jonathan Banks and Elizabeth McGovern who all fit into their cliched thriller roles nicely.

The escalating forward momentum attempts to fly past multiple plot holes in this initially realistic thriller, which is entirely enjoyable but instantly forgettable.

the commuter film review, two stars

Written by Lyndon Wells

The CommuterDirected by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle
Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill
Released: 2017 | Genre: Action-Adventure
Country: USA | IMDB
More reviews: Latest | Archive

The Commuter was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on May 21.

About the Author
A film geek and cinephile masquerading as a Doctor, husband and father. With my dog Bilbo by my side I seek to prescribe a healthy movie experience through accurate diagnostics. Find me on Twitter: @lwellsfilm

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