It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s another Liam Neeson movie! Only this time he’s stuck on a train, of all places.
A recently laid off family man named Michael (played by the oh-so lovable Liam Neeson) commutes every day to work via train, only this time it’s different. He’s approached by a stranger known only as Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who gives him the task of identifying a person aboard the train going by the alias “Prynne”. If he succeeds, Michael will be paid one hundred thousand dollars. Desperate for cash, Michael plays along at first, only to discover a hidden murder conspiracy behind it all. Now caught in the midst of the conspiracy, Michael must quickly find Prynne, or risk being killed.
If you saw Neeson’s more recent film titled Nonstop (which takes place aboard a plane), than chances are you saw The Commuter as well. That’s because both films are carbon copies of one another. The plots are so similar that I’m convinced they used the same script as Nonstop and just replaced the word “plane” with “train”.
And just like Nonstop, The Commuter is a middle of the road and nonsensical action thriller, with particularly schlocky fight sequences towards the climax of the film.
The stunts and action are so basic on a technical level that everything feels bland. Neeson doesn’t do as much punching, kicking, and fighting as he does just pushing and shoving people. I’m actually pretty sure Liam loses more fights in The Commuter than he does win, and without the help of others he probably wouldn’t have made it to the end of the movie.
And when you factor in all the property damage and loss of life he causes; his character really isn’t much of a hero at all. The filmmakers knew this too, which is why they frequently remind the audience that Neeson is in fact a bona fide “hero”.
The Commuter relies too heavily on tropes commonly found in Neeson’s other films for it to be at all clever or unique. Most aspects of the plot, cinematography, and characterization are so by the numbers that almost nothing comes as a surprise. The action is so slow-paced and monotonous that it made me want to laugh out loud more than cheer Neeson on.
I got a lot of enjoyment out of The Commuter, only not in the way it was originally intended. I guess all there is left to do is wait for the next Liam Neeson film, which will take place upon a charter bus. I think it hits theaters this August.
The Verdict: C-