The Commuter Is a Train That Should Be Stopped

In 2008 movie-goers realized Liam Neeson was an undiscovered, action icon after watching Taken. What they didn’t know is that Hollywood would exploit this idea for nearly a decade.

Liam Neeson in The Commuter

Liam Neeson in The Commuter

Fast-forward ten years and The Commuter, from director Jaume Collet-Serra, is now in theaters. Just four years after making a movie where Neeson is a gun-wielding hero on a plane, he is doing the same thing but this time—on a train.

After being fired from his job, a few years shy of his retirement, Michael (Neeson) sits on the commuter train debating how he is going to tell his wife and his son (a recently-accepted college student). That is when he is approached by a stranger (Vera Ferminga) and given a “hypothetical” question: would he be willing to identify a passenger who doesn’t belong for $100,000. With some persuasion, Michael accepts the task only to discover soon he is about to get way more than he bargained for.

One of the strongest elements of The Commuter is the subtle opening. During the title credits, Collet-Serra cleverly shows the passage of time, establishing the day-to-day life of Neeson’s character. This fresh, well-edited introduction is the most creative thing the movie does on a technical level.

Beyond that, I don’t have many praises for the movie. It’s familiar and forgetful.

The Commuter offers one of those stories in which the less you know, the better. As the movie reaches its final twenty minutes, and more information is divulged, the plot holes get bigger and bigger. It essentially seems the filmmakers knew they wanted Neeson kicking ass on a train, but had to come up with a story last minute to have it all make sense (which it doesn’t).

There are a few exciting action sequences, one, in particular, feels like it is all done with one shot. These moments, unfortunately, are few and far between. The rest of the picture has uneven pacing. One moment Neeson is looking for evidence like train tickets and then the next there are bodies in the stow-away.

It’s a movie someone will ask me about in a few months to which I’ll respond: “Which one was that again?” Because there is no meat to chew on. It depends on the flashy moments in which the sixty-five-year-old is putting some guys head through a window. Moreso, it’s all sizzle with no steak.

If you loved seeing Neeson have his family taken away from him three times, or seeing him do damage in a 747, then sure, The Commuter is your cup of tea.

I, for one, am burnt out on poorly-plotted action flicks starring Liam Neeson. It’d be one thing if they kept creating new and innovative stories, or give the actor more robust, complex characters, but these movies are all the same just with a different title.

1 out of 4 stars
We also reviewed The Post this week! See our review HERE
Check out our video review of The Commuter below:


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