Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Run Time: 1h 44min
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
2 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Though this genre is what Liam Neeson uses his particular set of skills best for, he may have wanted to take a pass on this ride for the better of the film. That said, I like anything he’s in and did enjoy him but there were times I felt he was cast only for his name and not for what would have been more plausible. Neeson is now sixty-five years of age and his character, Mike MacCauley, is sixty. It was hard to watch him, even using suspension of disbelief, fight an ax-wielding younger man and believe he could stay in the fight, let alone win. A lot of editing is used to make him look younger and capable, but we’re not fooled. Outside of tricks used to make him look like he’s a badass, there are a lot of other visuals that are too far-fetched to accept as real, however, they come with high intensity, so you’ll forgive every one of them.
The opening credits are excellent and are used creatively to introduce you, over a span of time, to Mike and his family. He’s working hard to pay the bills for him and his wife’s mortgage and also his son who is about to go to college and will be needing tuition soon. The credits also take you on his commute. Directly after the credits, Mike, an ex-cop, goes into his insurance job where he’s five years from retirement. He’s called into his boss’s office and is let go. The news is devastating as he already lives hand to mouth and has no nest egg to rely on. He goes and has a drink with Alex ‘Murph’ Murphy (Wilson) and tells him what happened. This is where the movie isn’t exactly subtle in a few hints it drops. At the bar, we also meet Captain Hawthorne (Neill), who Mike used to work with and who has now moved up in ranks. You won’t exactly miss some of the set-ups here. When Mike leaves the bar, he finds a seat on his train to head home and our adventure begins.
A woman by the name of Joanna (Farmiga) sits across from him and strikes up a conversation. He tells her that he’s married and she tells him that’s not why she’s talking to him. She explains that she studies human behavior and says she wants to know what type of person he is by asking him one questions. That question is if she asked him to do something, anything, would he do it? He, of course, wants to know what type of thing. She tells him and also says that a reward would be offered but he’d never know the consequences of his actions. What she needs is for him to find someone on the train that doesn’t belong. His interest is piqued and yours will be, as well. What he is to do when he finds this person is plant a tracking device on a bag that they are carrying. He’s offered $25,000 for taking it and an extra 75,000 upon completion of the task. He does suspect that something isn’t right but having just lost his job, a $100,000 payday sure sounds nice. He has until the Cold Spring stop to finish the deed.
Having accepted the assignment, the film slows down a bit as he wades through the trivial, even boring characters on the train with him. I have to mention to be on the lookout for a certain Goldman Sachs reference you might appreciate. Anyway, with threats now coming from Joanna, he’s getting more and more crazed and desperate as he searches for the mystery man. Eventually, Mike decides he’s not going to find who Joanna wants him to for the reason she wants him to. Once a cop, always a cop.
There are a great many clichés in the film and you’ll recognize Collet-Serra’s ode to Hitchcock films but herein lies the fun even though a lot of the CG and hand-held camera work is quite bad at times. As we move along the tracks our story builds and our energy is heightened. The movie is always engaging.
You’ll have a lot of fun with The Commuter especially if you’re a Neeson fan and if you are fascinated with action movies that are way over the top. Again, if you’re a fan of Liam Neeson, you can’t skip what’s sure to be the last of this genre for him. He’ll give you his all, as he always has, even if this isn’t his best.
Official Website: www.TheCommuter.movie