Jaume Collet-Serra has become Liam Neeson’s most trusted collaborator in the actor’s latter-day ass-kicking years – although his best film (The Shallows) didn’t star Neeson. Maybe it’s a sign.
With a not-too-dissimilar set-up to their previous effort, Non-Stop, The Commuter follows businessman Michael MacCauley (Neeson) who gets laid off his job after ten years, then has his regular commute interrupted by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) who pits him against time to discover a certain passenger on the train who knows too much.
As the mystery unfolds, the movie becomes a deeper story of cover-ups and corruption within the elite that’s scarily relevant in the current climate of Hollywood and elsewhere in America. Between this and Non-Stop’s comments on security, Neeson and Collet-Serra have quite the points to make about the current shape of the States.
MacCauley is one of the more interesting characters in the modern era of Liam Neeson, even if only for his white-collar exasperations. As always with the actor’s characters, MacCauley is committed to family. He doesn’t quite have the fighting chops like the rest of them, though, being pummelled a number of times before inevitably winning a scrap. One of the major action sequences is shot with one fluid take – a response to the horrible choppiness of the films that made him an action hero in the first place, the Taken series.
The supporting cast are less thought-provoking, mostly stock roles played by a host of talented actors who are rightfully the leads in other features, like Florence Pugh, Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill. Vera Farmiga leaves a relatively lasting impression with her few minutes on screen before turning quasi-Simon Gruber, but it’s the worst “man racing against the clock to figure out a mystery on a train” film that she’s been in.
The Commuter is as run-of-the-mill as the Neeson/Collet-Serra movies get but briskly paced, easily digestible thrillers can be a welcome break from the dramas of awards season. Liam Neeson’s fans will be satisfied by this latest outing, especially those belonging to the American middle class for, on their behalf, MacCauley gives a big middle finger to Goldman Sachs. If not, then there’ll always be an upcoming one to look forward to since the star hilariously un-retired from action movies just two weeks after announcing that he was going to stop, stating that he’ll be a fixture in the genre until he’s six feet under.
The Commuter is released nationwide on 19th January 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Commuter here: