The Commuter

2018-01-12 08:34

What’s it about:

The Commuter is a mysterious, claustrophobic thriller in the tradition of films such as Panic Room and Red Eye. Michael MacCauley, a desperate businessman who will do anything to provide for his family, is caught up in a deadly criminal conspiracy during his commute home. The film’s main character will be all too familiar to fans of both the genre and its lead; an aging world-weary hero, thrust into a confusing game of cat and mouse. After making a deal with the proverbial devil (i.e a shadowy organisation), MacCauley must use his wits and experience as a former police detective to find a passenger amongst dozens on a train before it reaches its final destination. 

What we thought:

In short, it’s a decidedly average thriller; it’s admirable in its direction and awesome ‘train’ set piece but fails to deliver on the epic suspense-filled film it could’ve been. It’s hard to stay gripped to the action when characters find exposition literally under their seats. 

It’s a role Liam Neeson feels instantly at home playing, unfortunately it's starting to feel like a retread of his previous work (Taken, Non-Stop etc). Often it’s Neeson that seems frustrated more than the character, as he's clearly the person most invested in its success. He repeatedly refers to himself as a “60-year-old man” to the point where it becomes his catchphrase in the movie. Nevertheless, you’ll root for the protagonist and find yourself oddly gripped by the film despite its flaws. 

The Commuter is full of mysterious characters played by a talented cast of veteran actors, unfortunately most of them remain poorly developed and under-utilised (Sam Neil looks as if he ‘phoned it in’). The shadowy organisation has staggering resources to the point where they’re able to watch MacCauley’s every move, commit murder on a whim even kill the authorities without batting an eye, which begs the question – why do they even need his help?

Neeson continues to push his self-assigned label of action star to the point where the movie enters the surreal – he is able to dispatch trained killers in hand-to-hand combat with relative ease and even handle being pepper-sprayed in the face like he’s just had a refreshing spritz of water. 

Is it worth watching?

Overall, whether or not you will enjoy the The Communter will largely depend on your expectations; some may find it derivative to the point of being awful while others will find it a nailbiting ride with the world’s most versatile former detective turned insurance salesman.

It struggles to inspire but if you let go and immerse yourself, you may be pleasantly surprised. The director seems to be a fan of Train to Busan and it certainly shows in his use of rail transport as a catalyst to every tense situation. If you’ve never seen any of the Taken films, The Commuter could be highly entertaining.

Liam Neeson has over the years carved a niche for himself in the “How far will one man go to save/fight/provide for his family?” genre. The Commuter plays to many of Neeson’s strengths but fails in its execution.

Read more on:    liam neeson  |  movies

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