Three questions: Do you like action movies? Do you like Liam Neeson? Do you like action movies with Liam Neeson where he’s on the phone trying to figure out what’s happening? If you said yes to all of them, there’s a chance you’ll have fun with the latest action flick The Commuter, where it involves all of those things and more.
Insurance salesman Michael McCauley (Neeson) has a daily routine of commuting from home to work every day. After being confronted by a mysterious stranger (Vera Farmiga), she blackmails Michael into finding the identity of a passenger who doesn’t belong on this train. With that, he must find out who before it reaches its last stop.
This is the fourth collaboration that’s from Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra. They worked together before on Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night, and all three aren’t exactly excellent, but they’re enjoyable action flicks. But I kind of knew what to expect with The Commuter. From all the advertising, it made it look like it’s Non-Stop… but on a commuter train. And I’m a sucker for Neeson, so that persuades me either way. But is The Commuter a good movie? Nope. But, it can be on the level of having it on in the background for ambient noise type of entertainment.
For a premise like this to come out in 2018, this is the type of idea that definitely belongs in the 90s. It fell under familiar territory because you’ve seen this premise in many other action movies. And because of the story, it honestly doesn’t make a lot of sense when you trace back to what everything means. This seems like it was going for an updated version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, but energetic for a modern audience. The large majority of The Commuter takes place on this train making it feel like it has a claustrophobic setting. While the writers try to be clever with its twist and turns, that just turns to convoluted moments.
Neeson has become the unexpected action star for about a decade. He’s 65-years-old and he still manages to impress me with doing a tone of action movies after Taken. Even then, it feels a little tiresome where I can’t tell if he’s committed to his performance sometimes. But to be fair, his performance is worth the watch.
Most of the action is fine though there’s not a lot of it. Nothing that was exactly intense though. There was actually one fight scene that wasn’t too bad even though it was made to look like one shot but I know there were edits to it. There was one horrible scene with the train that I actually laughed because of how badly shot it was. But there were two occasions where Nesson should’ve died. Maybe I shouldn’t be questioning that because Nesson is basically God.
Farmiga is utterly wasted because she basically only has about three scenes. It’s a shame that we could’ve gotten a Conjuring reunion because both Patrick Wilson and Farmiga are in this and doesn’t share a scene together.
And then it kept on going, and my patience started to get weary because I thought it was going to end at one point where it gets ridiculous and boring afterward.
In the end, The Commuter would have reached that point of really becoming a guilty pleasure action movie. But it squanders on being just dumb with not a lot of stakes to be found. I can see another Neeson/ Collet-Serra film, but I’m just hoping it will be smarter than what we got here. For a January movie, it wasn’t really that bad. There will be a lot of people will think this was entertaining, and I wouldn’t blame them.
The Commuter is admittedly a pretty dumb action thriller that doesn’t do justice with a premise that’s been done beforehand and will be forgotten quickly. Grade: C