REVIEW: 'The Commuter'

Credit: Lionsgate

Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth McGovern and Sam Neill

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra 

Plot: During his daily commute by train, a man finds himself trapped in a perilous situation involving a mysterious package and the person carrying it. 

Date of Release: January 12th, 2018

This cat and mouse mystery thriller is reminiscent of  Speed, Flightplan and Non-Stop (with Neeson in the leading role). Some haters might scoff that Neeson, at 65 years old, was too old for the leading role in The Commuter. But if they stop to remember his  surprising performance as the retired CIA agent Bryan Mills in the Taken movies- they would recant their unfounded objections, Neeson proved once again he’s a versatile action star. Which makes us wonder over and over just why he turned down the role of James Bond when the franchise was revived in 1995; paving the way for fellow Irish actor, Pierce Brosnan.

In the first few minutes of The Commuter, we find out all about the main character- Michael McCauley- via carefully done scenes and dialogues. He’s married, father of a college bound son and works for an insurance company, 10 years after a previous career. After receiving unexpected news, the disheartened man boards the train home, running into the regular fellow commuters. Then out of nowhere, a woman who calls herself Joanna (Vera Farmiga) comes and strikes up a conversation with Michael. Her remarks and questions soon turn from mildly irritating to downright mysterious, mysterious enough to quip Michael’s curiosity. And before we can blink, Michael’s quest begins; he has to find a package in a bag belonging to a person called ‘Prynne’.

Yes, the storyline does sound rather familiar if you’ve seen Neeson’s 2014 Non- Stop. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect the unexpected either, because this movie has more than enough plot twists to keep us guessing who this ‘Prynne’ person is, what the package in the bag is and why the unseen villains are so anxious to obtain it. And we find ourselves rooting for Michael as he desperately makes his way through the train he’s not allowed to get off of, he must finish his unwanted mission or else... the classic blackmail... his family will die. And worse, his mission isn’t exactly all that straight forward either.
Liam Neeson didn’t act like he was reprising a familiar role (another reference to Non-Stop), he played a character all of us can easily relate to and did so like the veteran actor he is, with panache. And while Varmiga had little screen time in the movie, her harsh phone calls with Neeson now and then reminds the audience of her presence and we can almost feel her cold eyes hovering over Michael as he does her bidding, enough to make us grimly hope she eventually gets her comeuppance.

And considering most of the movie’s storyline-right to the end- takes place on a train, the movie moved at a fast but steady pace with several tense moments including exchange of fisticuffs and mistaken identity. The Taken movies transformed Neeson into an action star; The Commuter further sealed his status and takes you on a nail biting but really enjoyable ride. 

Once you’re done, you’ll remind yourself of this... never talk to strangers. 


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