The Commuter review
It's January. I guess that it's time for another Liam Neeson action movie. Like the Saw movies we get almost every October or every may when we get a new Marvel movie, January has become something of a tradition to receive a new movie (usually an action or thriller) that stars Liam Neeson. This seems to have started thanks to the first Taken film that was put out at that time. It's certainly not because Neeson is desperate for work. He's a great actor who has shown to have a wide range and is still casted in big movies. I think even he's self aware of these kinds of movies.
Counting Taken, Non-Stop, and Unknown, they all have gruff heroes that have to stop something. And they're all put out in January. Even when they come out as bad movies, they tend to do well at the box office. This shows that Neeson is still a draw and they like him as an action hero. He has the right mix of an everyman, but can also be as intimidating as a Schwarzenegger or a Stallone. How much longer can we enjoy this? I don't know, and The Commuter seems to show no sign of him slowing down.
Insurance salesman Michael MacCauley (played by Liam Neeson) commutes daily on a train to New York. His routine is just like a lot of New York workers who don't live in the city. Despite this, he remains a big part of his wife Karen and teenage son Danny's life. His day is different this time as he's being laid off to cut cooperate costs. Before heading home, he catches up with his former police partner Alex (played by Patrick Wilson). Afterword's, he catches the same train home, though he'll have to figure out how to pay for his son's college tuition.
While sitting, a woman Joanna (played by Vera Farmiga) tells him that there's a bag of money in the bathroom and he'll receive $75,000 if he does a favor of finding someone before the last stop in Cold Springs. Joanna gets off while Michael inspects to see if there really is money. He finds a bag, which sets him in motion follow the favor. When he tries to tell someone, Joanna (via someone else's cell phone) has the person injured and tells Michael he has to find a person named "Prynne". Between a hard place, Michael searches for this person while finding a way out.
If you've seen Taken, Unknown, or Non-Stop, then you've already seen The Commuter. What I mean by that is The Commuter is exactly the kind of movie that comes out in January; bland, but has enough to not make it a complete failure. The story itself, while certainly interesting, doesn't have much potential. It's like those dime store detective stories. These are the kinds of stories that are written in a heartbeat while trying to figure out how to take advantage of Liam Neeson.
Neeson is the best thing about the movie. His charisma makes him charming enough to make you want to follow him. You'll never believe he's playing a character, but that's usually common with his movies. What is lacking from the other movies are his action skills, but the man is in his mid sixties, so it's to be expected. That may explain the climax of the film, which does include a train crash. The problem is that it's CGI is so obvious and fake that it looks more like a cartoon then a live action thriller. The movie works a little more in it's first half, but not by a lot.
I'll give this three train maps out of five. Those that like Liam Neeson will probably find something they'll like whether it's the actor himself or maybe even the story. It’s nothing special and even the movie is aware that it's nothing special. It's another escapist thriller. I'd say if your really curious, it's worth the DVD rental later on, but I wouldn't waste money on it in theaters. Check your schedule and see if The Commuter is worth getting on now or later.