'The Commuter' Review

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At 65, Liam Neeson is still kicking ass.

“The Commuter” is Neeson’s latest action/thriller and his fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra. Their previous films involved Neeson dealing with an identity crisis (“Unknown”), an airplane takeover (“Non-Stop”), and a mob boss friend turned enemy (“Run All Night”).

This time, Neeson’s ex-cop turned life insurance salesman Michael meets a mysterious woman (played by Vera Farmiga) on a NYC commuter train. She’s got a proposition: if Michael does “this one little thing” for her, he’ll get $100,000 (and he really needs the money). What he’s got to do is find someone on the train “who does not belong”. Since he’s been riding this same train, everyday, for the past 10 years, it should be easy, right? Of course, nothing in Liam Neeson movies comes easy. It’s not long before his life, the lives of his wife and son, along with dozens of fellow commuters are all in jeopardy.

Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson
Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson

When the I saw the first trailer for “The Commuter”, which was released last September, I was instantly on board. This is basically “Non-Stop” on a train, with elements of recent locomotive thrillers “Murder on the Orient Express” and “The Girl on the Train” thrown-in. At the same time, this film is, without question, its own animal, and a worthy addition to the Liam Neeson Saves the Day Movie Anthology.

The action scenes are stunning, fast and fierce, with a handful of truly wild moments. And the story definitely keeps you guessing and mostly holds together right to the end. Neeson is as convincing as ever, and Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill also deliver in their supporting roles.

Editing-wise, this isn’t the most polished film. The opening sequence, while a unique way to show the passage in time in Michael’s life, is a somewhat awkward. And there are a few comedic moments involving passengers that are unnecessary and briefly take you out of the moment.

Buy a ticket to “The Commuter” and you know exactly what you’re in for: An out-of-control ride, during which you will need to toss some logic out the window. It’s best to simply sit back and watch Neeson do what he, arguably, does better than any other actor today: embody the Everyman Action Hero.

Jackson Murphy: Emmy Award-winning Film Critic / Entertainment Reporter. Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. (@CriticsChoice), SAG-AFTRA (@SAGAwards)