“The Commuter” stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is stopped by a woman played by Vera Farmiga while on his daily commute on the train. This woman offers him $100,000 if he can identify a specific passenger on the train, but in doing so, he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that jeopardizes the lives of everyone on board the train. This movie is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, director of other Liam Neeson actions films such as “Non-Stop” and “Run All Night”.
Liam Neeson has been typecast in this role so much now that we might as well start a genre specifically relating to Liam Neeson being an action star who plays a retired badass of sorts. It’s a tired thing at this point, but I can’t deny that Neeson is good in the role. He’s certainly giving a good performance in this movie and it’s always nice to see him do all sorts of action at his age, but that’s not to discredit the rest of the cast. There’s nothing groundbreaking here in terms of performances, but the actors are all perfectly fine. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are both fine in the limited screen time that they have and Jonathan Banks (again with very limited screen time) is also good enough for what his role requires. The only performance that was bad was that of the woman playing Liam Neeson’s wife and it goes without saying that she’s unknown for a reason.
Talking positively about the movie, the setup is handled in an intriguing way. The goal is to identify a certain someone aboard the train and you’re given as much as Neeson’s character is given. There were some scenes in this movie that had me guessing and it made for a first half that was watchable and even kind of tense. That said, the second half of the movie goes off of the rails completely and it kills whatever white-knuckle suspense that this movie was trying to build up.
The movie’s big problem is that it’s incredibly predictable. Once certain characters show up, you immediately know what role they’re going to serve in the film. You know their purpose and the reveal relating to them, and that plays into why this movie’s second half is such a disappointment. And the same applies to certain plot points that are introduced. No spoilers here, but once a character mentions something that seems insignificant as a passing thing in a conversation, you just know that it’s going to find its way back into the movie again. That’s how predictable and tired the movie becomes after a while.
As far as it being an action movie goes, the term “action” is to be used loosely for this movie. A lot of the movie is just Liam Neeson wandering around a train and looking like a toddler who just lost his mom at the mall. It’s actually quite boring to see him stumble around confused for a majority of the film, but even the action is boring. When there is action in this movie, it’s mostly just a bunch of unrealistic nonsense that no human being could survive, let alone a retired man in his sixties. There were more than a few parts in this movie when action would happen and I’d say “Yep, he should be dead.” But he wasn’t.
Overall, “The Commuter” is just another generic Liam Neeson action-thriller. It’s not offensively terrible in what it does, but it’s still predictable and dull, showcasing nothing more than a slightly intriguing first act and a Liam Neeson who’s at least putting forth the effort in being an action star. It’s January, so this movie is par for the course in terms of what to expect this month.