Philip de Blasi
Liam Neeson stars as an ex-cop turned insurance agent who is dragged into a bizarre challenge on his train home by a mysterious woman in The Commuter, a 2018 thriller from Jaume Collet-Serra who also worked with Neeson on Unknown.
When the charming yet secretive Joanna (Vera Farmiga) meets Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) on a train, he's not exactly having the best of days. Having just been let go from his job, he's obviously just trying to get through his usual train ride before he has to tell his family about their potential financial woes. Joanna gets his attention when she suggests there is a lot of money hidden on the train and he's welcome to it if he helps her find a specific passenger as part of a "hypothetical experiment" which turns out to not be so hypothetical after all. The fact that Michael, who is ex-NYPD, believes Joanna enough to take part in what is obviously a nefarious scam is a little hard to swallow but if you can get past that, The Commuter is an entertaining romp.
Having 99% of the film being set on a train sounds gruelling but it's worked before (see Silver Streak, Murder On The Orient Express) and it works surprisingly well here, though it relies heavily on the fluid camera gimmick where the camera moves through the structure of the train in every direction. Liam Neeson brings some intensity to what could have been a throwaway role but he's not really doing anything we haven't seen him do before. The "whoisit" plot is intriguing enough to keep your attention as Michael attempts to single out a single passenger in a packed train using only his powers of deduction before his time runs out. The twist is a little predictable but the seemingly inseparable Patrick Wilson/Vera Farmiga combo is as reliable as ever and the film boasts one heck of a fist fight worthy of They Live. Sadly, the film wastes a perfectly good Jonathan Banks whose character should have been a bigger part of the story.
The Commuter, let's be honest, is hardly a must-see. It's enjoyable while it lasts but it's never truly convincing and it's about exactly what you'd expect that kind of Liam Neeson vehicle to be so it probably won't surprise you much but it's still a reasonably well made thriller with a good cast.
Solid enough rental.