Ah Liam Neeson, not just there for the nasty things in life like kidnapping, revenge, extortion…oh wait, that’s exactly why Liam Neeson is now there!
The 65-year old actor has done an amazing job of reinventing himself as an action star since we saw him in Luc Besson’s Taken ten years ago now.
Here, he’s back amongst it as regular commuter Michael MacCauley. He boards a train, as usual, goes to work, as usual, everything is mundane and as usual as it, well, usually is.
Except, on arrival at work, with just five-years to go to retirement and his son about to college, Murtaugh, I mean, MacCauley, is called into the office by his boss and told they’re letting him go.
Except this time, he’s approached by a woman calling herself Joanna, Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel (TV), Source Code), who poses a hypothetical question to him regarding someone on the train who doesn’t belong and a bag they’re carrying and that there’s a $100,000 in it for him if he can find this person.
He laughs and then realises she’s being serious and when dead bodies begin turning up on the train and threats are made against his wife and son, MacCauley realises he must do what they say and find this person before time, and track, run out.
Despite me making the plot sound convoluted, its really not. Neeson starts out as a mild-mannered insurance salesman and, by the end, he’s covered in blood and wounds and has leapt on and off moving trains and kicked some ass in the process. A usual commute for Neeson these days you suspect.
First timers Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi wrote the screenplay with some help from Non-Stop writer Ryan Engle. And yes, there are similarities.
Despite this, The Commuter isn’t a bad film at all. It’s well directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Run All Night, The Shallows) who adds some lovely visual flair throughout. I was particularly taken (see what I did there) with the opening credit sequence which sees Neeson getting ready for work and making the car trip to the station with his wife.
Serra seamlessly cuts between various days meaning we’re in the car and it’s one commute, open car door – another commute, close car door – another commute. It’s a nice take on the montage, I liked it a lot.
Serra continues his flare on the train, which is useful as all the commutes I’ve done over the years have been boring as hell. Serra punches through holes in tickets and seamlessly moves from inside to outside shots with ease.
Obviously, it’s not a film without flaws. Did I really buy into MacCauley being a man who’d take up the offer Joanna gives him? Not really, particularly not as he’s an ex-cop. Where there some eye-rolling action moments, did I shout: ‘pick up the gun and shoot him’, of course. Seemingly what’s an action film when you don’t shout or roll your eyes at least once these days.
The Commuter is saved by both the performance from Neeson, as solid and dependable as ever in this sort of role, and the directing of Serra, who keeps the adrenalin pumping and utilises some really very nice turns with the camera.