A Liam Neeson action movie on the eve of his retirement from the genre. Jeez, I hope at least one of his projects have him go out with a bang. But then again, maybe it’s pompous of him to think he’s completely turned off to these kind of films, so we’ll probably see him back toting a gun before long.
The story here looks like it’s about an everyman who commutes on a train. He’s got an ordinary family and possibly an ordinary job. But then this mysterious woman comes along and gets him involved in a murder conspiracy because she wanted him to this “one little thing” for her and now he’s fighting to stay alive, save people, and kill the bitch. Yup, sounds like a Liam Neeson action movie.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have, of course, Liam Neeson, known for MARK FELT (2017), LES MISÉRABLES (1998), video game FALLOUT 3 (2008), and upcoming films HARD POWDER (2018) and WIDOWS (2018). In support, we have Vera Farmiga (THE CONJURING 2 , THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS , THE DEPARTED , and upcoming films CAPTIVE STATE  and THE FRONT RUNNER ), Patrick Wilson (THE FOUNDER , THE CONJURING , LAKEVIEW TERRACE , and the upcoming AQUAMAN ), Jonathan Banks (REIGN OVER ME , FLIPPER , BEVERLY HILLS COP , TV show BREAKING BAD [2008 – 2013], and the upcoming REDBAD ), Sam Neill (THOR: RAGNAROK , WIMBLEDON , EVENT HORIZON , and upcoming films PETER RABBIT  and RIDE LIKE A GIRL ), and Florence Pugh (LADY MACBETH ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Jaume Collet-Serra, known for THE SHALLOWS (2016), ORPHAN (2009), and HOUSE OF WAX (2005). Now for the screenplay, we have a red flag total of three writers: Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi (both making their feature film debuts; congrats, gentlemen), and Ryan Engle, known for NON-STOP (2014) and upcoming films RAMPAGE (2018) and BREAKING IN (2018). Composing the score is Roque Baños, known for DON’T BREATHE (2016), RISEN (2016), IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015), and upcoming films THE MIRACLE SEASON (2018) and THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2018). The cinematographer is Paul Cameron, known for PIRATES: DEAD MEN (2017), DEJA VU (2006), and COLLATERAL (2004). Finally, the editor is Nicolas De Toth, known for HITMAN: AGENT 47 (2015), UNDERWORLD: EVOLUTION (2006), and BICENTENNIAL MAN (1999).
Overall, I’m not expecting a good movie. I just want to see Neeson run around and kick ass, and possibly see Farmiga be a delightful bitch. Give me those, and I’ll be a satisfied little Peruvian Boy.
This is my honest opinion of: THE COMMUTER
Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is a regular subway commuter. He’s a former police officer turned insurance salesman, has a loving wife Karen (Elizabeth McGovern) and a teenage son, Danny (Dean-Charles Chapman), on the verge of going to college. However, there’s a problem. After ten years of working for his company, he’s been laid off, and at a horrible time when money is extremely tight to the point where he and Karen may not be able to afford sending Danny to the college he wants. Unable to tell his wife right away about the firing, he soon heads home to face the inevitable. But then he bizarrely encounters a woman who calls herself Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who seems kindly at first, but then after a string of strange and disturbing hypothetical questions involving 100,000 dollars if he can find someone for her that could in all likelihood be killed if he identifies the person she needs him to, turns out to be not to hypothetical at all. With no means of escape, people getting killed, and no effective way of calling for help, and his family threatened, Michael gets more and more tangled in Joanna’s conspiracy and may have no choice but to play her game.
Yeah, I had fun, as I always do with a Liam Neeson action movie, so no promises that this’ll be a very long review. Also, this review is a week overdue, but let’s see how much I can squeeze out of memory.
I remember the montage opening being a surprising mix of being both effective and jarring. Basically, it’s just about Michael’s family life. There’s an insane amount of jump cuts between each moment that’s supposed to take place on different days. Like in one cut, it shows a loving Michael with his wife, in the next jump cut, it’s them having a fight… or, vice versa, now that I’m thinking about it. In any case, it surprisingly does a good job showing a normal family acting like a normal family, even though we barely get to see it.
Thankfully, the rest of the film isn’t such a mixed bag. Neeson is about as gruff and bad-ass as you can imagine, selling the mild-mannered family man and throwing around a dude for threatening him. He’s a hoot and a half as always. But that’s the expectation, no one was expecting this to be some ground-breaking performance or anything. But what’s interesting is just how much fun Farmiga is in this, despite having very little screen time. Well, to be accurate, a majority of her role is voice over work, talking to Neeson’s character over the phone. But when she’s introduced in the flesh, she’s absolutely charming. She’s got this whole well-meaning, but kind of obnoxious chatty-Kathy thing down that I almost forgot that she’s supposed to be the villain in the film. That smile, I swear to God could melt steel like butter in a volcano. But when the gloves are off… damn, she’s a bitch! Manipulating events to her benefit, having people killed, constantly knowing everything that he’s doing, even the most subtle of actions, it’s incredibly easy for the audience to want to see her not get her way. It’s by no means one of her best roles she’s ever put forth, but if you ever wanted to see her as a villain in an action movie, she does a solid job for having a pretty thin character.
On a side note, if Farmiga and Wilson are going to constantly be in movies together, can we get a movie where they act like Saturday morning cartoon villains dressed in black cloaks, hunched over, and cackling to each other while muttering curses under their breath? Kind of like a Jessie and James dynamic from POKEMON? Please? Just… just please?
Other talents that I enjoyed seeing were Pugh, who was downright unrecognizable in her role as this Gwen, a passenger that looks like a punk girl. She don’t have many lines and doesn’t have many scenes of her doing anything outside of reacting to something bad happening, but it’s still nice to see that she’s getting work in American films. Now all she needs is another real role that showcases her talents, and the world will be right as rain. And Banks, also having a thin, throwaway character still adds a touch of gruff class to the movie. Although I do think it’s pretty pointless to have Neill in the film, as he almost does nothing but show up, and remind the audience that he’s randomly in the movie. Quite literally, he plays this newly promoted police captain that Michael dislikes, talks to Michael for a bit, disappears from the movie until the last ten or so minutes. That’s it.
Honestly guys, what more can possibly be said? It’s a Neeson popcorn action film. It’s got solid acting, despite thin characters, the action is decent and hard hitting. The story is kind of confusing, but story isn’t exactly the center focus, is it? If this is your kind of flick, I say check it out. Not to mention it’s likely this is going to be one his last action movies, so better get to appreciating while you still can, if you ask me. It ain’t great, but it ain’t bad. It isn’t pushing any envelopes, but it’s a fun time. It’s worth a viewing. Hop aboard this subway to actionville and have a fun time.
My honest rating for THE COMMUTER: a strong 3/5