The Commuter: Film Review

Liam Neeson has become synonymous with kickass action films since the success of Taken, and The Commuter is exactly what you would expect from Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously teamed up on Non-Stop and Unknown.

Neeson plays ex-cop Michael, who has been commuting from upstate New York into Manhattan for ten years until he is randomly made redundant from his insurance job. While busy worrying about how to tell his wife Karen (Elizabeth McGovern) and cover all their expenses like their mortgage and their son’s (Dean-Charles Chapman) college fund on his train home, Michael is interrupted by Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who asks him if he would complete a small task in exchange for thousands of dollars.

She makes it sound hypothetical but she is very serious. With money issues playing on his mind, Michael retrieves the money from a train bathroom, effectively signing himself up for the job. He has to identify “someone who doesn’t belong” called Prin with a large bag and attach a GPS to it before the person reaches a particular station. He isn’t told why but it’s made very clear that there will be serious consequences if he doesn’t.

The concept is a bit ridiculous and it descends into utter madness later on but it provides a lot of suspense and intrigue. I couldn’t figure out who Prin was, what was going on or any of the twists so I really involved in seeing how it panned out and really got behind Michael’s mission. It is dumb and the dialogue is all pretty obvious but it’s also a lot of fun and you can enjoy it too if suspend your belief (a lot).

My main issue was the CGI which was pretty poor (even in the beginning with tracking shots down the aisle of the entire train) especially in a big, climactic moment (which was, again, pretty fricking ridiculous) which really required some decent CGI to help us swallow it. Why create a scene like that when you don’t have the budget to do it properly? A simple derailment would have sufficed, but no, they had to push it even further. It also bugged me how unrealistic and fake the fights seemed – they would have been far more exciting and effective if it looked like his punches actually connected with his opponent.

Another little niggle (besides the script and CGI) is how little the supporting actors are in it, from Farmiga to Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill as Michael’s former cop colleagues and train passengers like Jonathan Banks and Florence Pugh.

Neeson gives it all and shows that he’s still got what it takes to be an action hero at 65. He is psychically fit and really conveys the moral dilemma his character is facing. The script doesn’t give much room for major depth, but he gives it a good go.

If you like any of the previous Neeson action offerings, The Commuter will definitely be up your street. It is pure mindless fun!

In cinemas Friday 19th January 

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