Liam Neeson’s career, what can you say? One thing that you can say is that he often finds himself in danger. Thankfully he always has a particular set of skills to solve the problem at hand. Even though his life or death challenges are becoming increasingly unfathomable, Neeson seems beat the odds both on the screen and in the box office. The Commuter hopes to keep the money train going but at some point, these kind of movies will inevitably just run out of track.
Michael (Liam Neeson) has been comfortable in his position selling life insurance policies. He lives a very structured life where routines are the only way to go. Everything changes in Michael’s boring humdrum life when he loses his job that he’s held for the last ten years. All that’s left is to head home and break the news to his wife. Again, sticking with his routine, he boards the same train that he has every other time before that. As if Michael’s life hasn’t been turned upside down enough already, things are about to go from bad to worse. A mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) presents Michael with a seemingly random, harmless scenario. Turns out that it is anything but. Michael becomes part of a much larger plan, and if he is to ever see his family again, he must solve a mystery that he himself is the middle of. Losing his job is the least of Michael’s worries now.
Liam Neeson gives a familiar gruff and rough performance in The Commuter without much deviation from other similar roles that he has done over the last decade. As his age advances, so do the leaps that audiences must take in order to believe these onscreen actions could actually be carried out by this man. That aside, it hasn’t stopped director Jaume Collet-Serra from calling on Neeson for more arthritic action. This is now the fourth time that the pair have worked together. Unknown (2011), Non-Stop (2014) and Run All Night (2015) each saw mild box office success while critics didn’t HATE these movies. They’re probably best categorized as serviceable with their latest falling in this same category.
The Commuter tries to build on mystery and intrigue, some of which misses its mark totally. Still though, there’s enough action and substance provided that will keep you from completely hating the action drama. Are there better ways to spend your 105 minutes? Sure, but you lower the bar in January. That’s a given. I cannot totally hate on this movie but I also caution you that the ridiculousness of what transpires might be tough to sit through without rolling your eyes a time or ten. If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson then you’ll probably leave the theater feeling satisfied, so take that as a win. That being said, I’d wait for a matinee at the very least.