Film Review: The Commuter

Lima Neeson in the Commuter

The Commuter is everything you would expect it to be, successfully fulfilling the audience’s desire for a fast-paced, action-packed film that will not let Neeson fans down.

Reconnecting action-legend, Liam Neeson, with family-thieving criminals, The Commuter presents the action-packed story of an average family-man pulled into a very un-average world on his daily commute, resulting in a train full of commuters whose lives now depend on our cult action-hero.

Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is an ordinary man, working his way through life to support his family and provide his son with the best possibilities for his academic future. After giving a large portion of his life to his job, he finds himself being let go, a casualty of financial cuts within a big corporation, and his son’s college costs start to seem like an impossible dream.

While sitting on the train, MacCauley, wondering how on earth he’s going to explain his recent job loss to his wife, is approached by a well-dressed woman (Vera Farmiga) who appears very out of place on the commuter train. Tempting the newly un-employed man with one-hundred-thousand dollars, she requests one thing; for MacCauley to find someone on the train who doesn’t belong. As MacCauley investigates further, this mysterious stranger’s intentions become much more sinister, and this is where the action begins.

Director, Jaume Collet-Serra, begins the film by emphasising the every-day; the common commuter routes we all take getting to and from home and work, and the familiar faces that fill these routes. Collet-Serra visually takes the audiences through the seasons in a year, rotating around average-man MacCauley’s morning routine, from bright Summer mornings to cold, harsh, white Winters all involving the same, recurrent commuter train on his trip to work.

Despite the somewhat impressive use of graphics and editing (the train derailment when sabotaged by desperate criminals is one of the most impressive train crashes possibly ever seen on screen), the film is working against clichéd and predictable dialogue. We find Neeson again (for the billionth film) gruffly shouting into a phone about the safety of his family and spraying threats left, right and centre. Even minor characters are caught in the poor quality, clichéd dialogue; a young, punk teenage girl claims, over heart-racing music, that the train is really ‘freaking her out’, an unrealistic understatement considering what’s going on around her.

Lead actor, Liam Neeson, is reliable as the save-the-day protagonist MacCauley, but this is not a surprise, following in the footsteps of his performances in Taken, Taken 2 and Taken 3 (how many family members can one actor lose?). For a rather average film, The Commuter surprisingly contains quite a talented, big-name cast alongside Neeson, including Hollywood veterans Vera Farmiga and Sam Neill, Watchmen’s Patrick Wilson, Breaking Bad’s Jonathon Banks, and Downton Abbey’s Elizabeth McGovern. These supporting actors provide a necessary break from Neeson’s film-long gruff frustration, but are all still working with a horrendous script which greatly limits what they can achieve.

The Commuter is everything you would expect it to be; unbelievable train crashes, stereotyped characters, a predictable script, and some questionable acting, though, while not being the best action/thriller of the year, it still successfully fulfils the audience’s desire for a fast-paced, action-packed film that will not let Neeson fans down.

The Commuter opened in Adelaide this week.
Check out the official site here.

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