After he loses his job, Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson) has a couple of drinks with a former work colleague, then takes the train home. When he gets on the train, however, his peaceful commute is turned upside down, when he meets a mysterious woman who insists that he find a mystery person on the train.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously brought us The Shallows, Non-Stop and Run All Night, reteams with his star from Run All Night – Liam Neeson – for The Commuter, a film that starts off feeling as though it could be a cousin of Neeson’s first Taken film, but takes a very silly turn somewhere along the line.
Liam Neeson leads the cast as former cop Michael, who is suddenly made redundant from his desk job, and although Neeson can still growl a menacing line like no other, the physical excitement that the actor brought to action films in the past seems to be slipping, as well as this, Michael is a character we have seen Neeson play before, and is not fleshed out very well. Vera Farmiga , Sam Neill, Patrick Wilson and our own Killian Scott make up the rest of the cast, but make no mistake, this is Neeson’s show from start to finish, and it is a less exciting show than we have seen in the past.
The Commuter is the first screenplay from writers Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, and unfortunately, it shows. The plot alternates between boring and incredibly predictable, the dialogue is unsubtle and expository and the pacing of the film feels messy and unfocused. As well as this, the very idea of having Liam Neeson seek someone out on a train feels rather silly, and there are several obvious solutions that would turn this film from a 104 minute feature to a 5 minute short.
As director, Jaume Collet-Serra tries his best to bring his trademark tension and fast pace to The Commuter, but he is fighting against a silly screenplay and a miscast lead actor from the very beginning. The pacing of the film is a mess, the twists obvious and can be seen a mile away. As well as this, there is a dated and old-fashioned feel to the whole film, as though it was written in the 80s, and quick decisions to modernise it never quite worked.
In all, The Commuter is a very silly, unengaging and uninspired film. The entire affair feels predicable and obvious, and seems to make the statement that the time has come for Neeson and Collet-Serra to step away from action flicks and stretch themselves by doing something truly unexpected.