REVIEW: “The Commuter”

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Jonathan Montague, Contributing Writer

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Liam Neeson has joined the ranks of Jason Statham and Jean-Claude Van Damme, known primarily for somewhat passable popcorn action flicks. These movies come along every year and either provide a decent time for the audience or are completely forgettable. Luckily, I believe Neeson’s fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra to embody the former and not the latter.

“The Commuter” follows the plight of Michael McCauley, a seemingly unremarkable individual who has just had a run of bad luck. On his usual train ride, a mysterious woman makes him an offer to find someone for a large sum of money. With each stop of the train, the plot thickens as Michael must find and protect this person as well as save the lives of his family and everyone on the train.

This plot hits a number of familiar beats with very few surprises and an obvious red herring. The direction, however, makes an effort to display these clichés in an interesting way, most notably during the opening scene. The characters are exactly what you expect, with Michael being an ex-cop and Joanna being the ominous femme fatale. Still, they are entertaining to watch for how generic they are and there are enough that you can find one that will hold your attention if the others do not.

The actors turn in serviceable performances. Liam Neeson can play a role like this in his sleep and carries the movie easily. Vera Farmiga is clearly having fun with her stock character and brings some charisma despite her limited screen time. As for the visuals, there was nothing notable outside of a couple action sequences, including one made to look like a continuous shot. The score, unfortunately, is as generic as the rest of the movie.

I don’t regret watching this movie. Everything about it is perfectly functional, with a couple highlights interwoven in, though I must say that this won’t crack any person’s “Best of the Year” list. I would most likely recommend this as a rental, a matinee at best. However, there are more entertaining films in the theater right now.