Liam Neeson is a man with a particular set of skills. He knows how to open an action movie in the dead of winter. His new film, The Commuter shamelessly borrows elements from his previous efforts. It’s basically Non-Stop, but on a train instead of a plane. We also have someone playing mind games with him a la Unknown. Oh yeah, and what would a Liam Neeson flick be if his wife wasn’t in danger, just like the Taken series? As a fan of Neesonploitation, I’m sad to report that even with his long-time collaborator, director Jaume Collet-Serra aboard (heh), this is by far his weakest wintertime actioner.
Collet-Serra gives us two nifty sequences. The opening scene that shows Neeson’s character’s mundane existence of boarding the same train every morning is expertly done. I also liked the long tracking shot that shows not only the geography of the train, but the list of potential suspects as well. These two scenes would make Hitchcock himself proud.
Hitch would have scoffed at the thin plot, weak script, and predictable plot twists though. He would’ve also sent the shitty CGI train wreck sequence back to the shop for a touch-up. Heck, he probably would’ve insisted on using models. That way, it wouldn’t have looked like something out of a goddamn video game.
Despite the less-than-stellar material, Neeson refuses to phone it in. His performance of an Everyman trying to find a certain passenger in a short amount of time in order to save his wife is easily the best thing about the movie. I honestly thought he’d given up action movies after the excellent Run All Night. The Commuter is proof he should’ve quite while he was ahead.
AKA: The Passenger.