It feels like I’m beating a dead horse to bring up Liam Neeson’s career the past few years. Yet, he keeps revisiting the same “old guy against the world” trough… only on a new form of public transportation each time. He is now taking the train in the literally titled, “The Commuter.”
Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson) lives each day to an exact routine. However, on one harrowing day, he is approached on the train on the way back from work by Joanna (Vera Farmiga). She is clouded in mystery and asks him to complete one task before the final stop. Immediately, he is propelled into a search complete with suspicion, danger and death.
The Commuter marks the third collaboration of director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson following Unknown (2011) and Non-Stop (2014). I can’t say that these two bmake terrible movies, but it’s almost as if they’re given the directive to make something serviceable, and nothing more. Collet-Serra’s biggest hit to date is the surprisingly fun B-movie, The Shallows.
The Commuter wants to be a modern Hitchcockian thriller. Neeson plays a man, in a desperate situation, forced to uncover a mystery where he won’t know the outcome, other than the fact that he’ll guarantee his own safety. The discovery is paced decently, but the instigating mission he must do, has no real heft to it. There is threat to his loved ones if he doesn’t succeed, but it’s hard to really care.
Somehow, in the middle of the 104 minute movie, there’s a fight scene that takes place in a cramped train car. Clearly, a ton of emphasis was placed on this particular scene and its creative choreography. In a movie where you may lose patience because it’s so built on solving a mystery, this scene jumps out and is actually exciting. Sadly, when it ends, the movie goes back to business; and business is slow.
Liam Neeson is dependable in this type of role, but there’s little else that required of him. The Commuter almost got something right. Casting Vera Farmiga was a great choice. She adds a sense of effortless intrigue to a small role that should have been a far larger part of the movie. Sadly, she’s gone in three minutes, and only has to phone it in throughout the movie. Utilizing her more would have made this movie far more than your average Taken runoff flick.
The Commuter will soon disappear into the ether of January movies you have totally forgotten about. I could recommend renting and watching this in a few months, but there’s no need to catch this train in the theater. C-