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Review: The Commuter — Liam Neeson back kicking butts while solving mysteries

liam neeson commuter movie still

The Commuter (2018)

Movie review


Liam Neeson (Taken film series, Schindler's List) reunites with director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, House of Wax) once again after Run All Night (2015), Non-Stop (2014) and Unknown (2011) for yet another action thriller starring Neeson as Michael McCauley, a former cop with a very particular set of skills but is in a poor financial situation with his family. While on his usual train ride home after suddenly losing his insurance salesman job, he is offered $100,000 by a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vega Farmiga) to find a passenger on board and the only clue he has is a name. The rule is that he can't tell anyone about it and he doesn't know what would happen to the passenger if he manages to identify the person. He soon finds out that this isn't a prank or a game as people begin to die and his family is threatened.

Yes, this is can be labeled as "just another typical Liam Neeson flick" but at least it is more entertaining and engaging than his recent ones, and definitely better than the other three films he did with Collet-Serra. The film opens with a nicely done run-through of McCauley's everyday life and his relationship with his family. It allows the character to be almost immediately relatable to the audience. I was engaged by the protagonist's situation and was rooting for him the whole time while making my own deductions and guessing which of these passengers is the one they're looking for. Like in most of his films, good or bad, Neeson gives a good performance.

Vera Farmiga commuter movie still

Despite being quite a fun ride, the film shares the same problems as most generic mystery action thrillers. The plot is very familiar, filled genre cliches and finishes with a very predictable twist towards the end. There are also many things and decisions in the film that a logic mind would question. The film also didn't turn out to be as morally challenging as I thought it was going to be. As for the action and fight sequences on the train, there's nothing super impressive. Apart from that one fight scene where there's longer, wide-angle shots, the rest are pretty much the usual, boring struggles with a lot of cuts and closeups. It feels pointless when it's obvious that nothing would really happen to Neeson's character. All the other characters in the story lacks development and screen time, making them nothing more casualties when any of them dies. We don't really get to know enough about Joanna and she hardly appears on screen.

However, despite its many flaws, The Commuter delivers as an enjoyable, passenger-finding mystery with a hero you can easily get behind. It is a decent one-off movie that you wouldn't mind watching again if it was playing on the TV when you're at a hotel room late at night during a vacation waiting to feel sleepy. It would've cooler, though, if the twist at the end was McCauley saying, "Ah, screw it. I need the money."

What I would've named the film: "Non-Stop II: From Plane to Train"

Malaysian censorship: I do not recall any scene that was noticeably cut. It doesn't seem like the type of film that would require any censoring anyway.

Verdict: A fun ride despite the familiar plot and cliches. One of the better Liam Neeson action-thrillers.

Rating: 3 / 5

Genre: Mystery action thriller
Running Time: 106 minutes
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Screenwriters: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Neill, Patrick Wilson

Malaysia Release Date: 11 January 2018
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Ombra Films, StudioCanal, The Picture Company



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