The Commuter is the first action film Neeson has starred in since Run All Night in 2015, so with expectations at full tilt, did it make for another fun action adventure with the actor? The answer is an easy yes, as The Commuter is a pure entertainment blast for any Liam Neeson fan. It combines multiple past action roles of his, in turn becoming another great restart for the legendary movie star.
As the fourth time collaborating with Neeson, Jaume Collete-Serra is familiar with how these films usually play out. Luckily for us, this may be eerily similar to another one of his previous films titled Non-Stop, but with a bit more fairness during the fights, remarkably showing a retired cop’s age and not making him into an all powerful hero. It’s much more a mystery than an action film, but the few action set pieces are nicely handled. In all respects, Jaume Collete-Serra seemed to take a lot of aspects from his other films and combine them, which fortunately worked efficient enough for this thriller.
Liam Neeson plays Michael, a man who’s worked every day of his most recent years for his family, and has gathered a routine over the years that will make him very useful. As one of the worst days of his life approaches and he must face losing his job, he must decide to what lengths he will go to make enough money to keep his family functioning. As with every film Collete-Serra makes, The Commuter is no exception to his method of always having a groundbreaking twist wrap up the film. Luckily for audience members, the twist is minimal in consideration of the unforgettably awkward twist found in Non-Stop, but on the other end of things, it drags the runtime a little farther than it necessarily needed to be.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
All of the actors in the film give favorable performances, although none truly stand out beyond Neeson and Vemiga’s antagonist, even though her time on screen is minimal. The action is well rehearsed and comes off highly realistic, causing tension to build between investigations of passengers. Only near the conclusion do a couple of characters appear noticeably thin, but that is the fault of the written material, not the actors.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The frantic action score set along with the busy train atmosphere created an incredibly tense environment. Through the loud chatter of the passengers on board, to the constantly hustling convoy they all rely on to get to their destinations in one piece, the sounds build up and never ease. This is of course what would occur if something would happen on a real train and the person placed in this dire situation would have to struggle through the noise to even think. This element of the movie took it to new heights and really brought the unusually difficult nature of the task at hand to full light. In addition to this, the immersive fighting and occasional firearm assault adds another depth to the entire design - making the film even more engaging.
Beyond a disastrous moment of CGI during a pivotal life or death moment of the movie, everything else is nicely designed to form a mysterious moving train filled with different personalities. The train feels gigantic yet confined at the same time; this practical set is the main atmosphere crafted for Neeson’s Michael to stressfully roam through, and it is a spectacle to behold. The audience can’t help but feel trapped in the train, although part of that goes beyond the set design and into the sound...
The Commuter may have a couple of issues, such as its similarities to the director’s prior effort, Non-Stop and the extensive final act, but the film as a whole has a ton going for it. The Commuter is a fun mystery with a few intense action scenes, and it lets you follow along with Neeson as he plunges his way into the insanity of the train. You get invested in Neeson’s Michael getting home safe and finding the right person on the train, even if the people he’s investigating aren’t exacting the most elaborate of characters. Ultimately, The Commuter is a fun movie that happens to star Liam Neeson. Don’t go out of your way expecting another Taken, but if you happen to see it, just sit back, relax and enjoy the film.