'The Commuter' - Liam Neeson continues to use his 'special set of skills'

Esequiel Farfan
Enero 13, 2018

The 65-year-old Neeson portrays the 60-year-old Michael MacCauley, a former NY cop who for the last several years has been selling life insurance inside the Manhattan skyscraper headquarters of an insurance giant. His teenage son is bound for university at the end of the summer, and his family has already been living paycheque to paycheque as it stands.

It's a day like any other, except that Mike has just been fired. Even though on the surface Neeson is playing hero, his character is aggressively stalking multiple passengers on a train before playing judge, jury, and executioner for one unlucky passenger. But when he gets second thoughts - the more he learns, the more he realizes the "thief" is more of an innocent victim - Joanna informs Michael that his family will pay a nasty penalty if he doesn't cooperate. "All you have to do is find them". This time instead of walking back and forth on a train, Neeson has to walk back and forth through every auto of a train like a world beaten and put upon Poirot.

Most eyebrow raising for the 1.6 to 3.1 million who trudge into and out of Manhattan everyday will be an unforgiveable incongruity in the train's otherwise largely accurate path.

And like the old adage goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". It may not be remembered as fondly as Neeson's more dramatic work, but, as far as action vehicles go, this train keeps its wheels firmly on the tracks. That is, naturally, when things get complicated. The latest movie to come from this filmmaker-actor collaboration, The Commuter, is an action-thriller loaded with that particular brand of Neeson badassery. Outside of some fisticuffs, there's only one large scale action sequence, and in a novel twist, it occurs at the end of the second act instead of during the climax.

Totally-badass police detective this time. An ambassador for Unicef, Neeson said he thinks that the "world needs" Michael D Higgins.

Have you LOOKED at the next month or so of upcoming movies? The Commuter has energy to spare, and Serra works hand in hand with cinematographer Paul Cameron and editor Nicolas De Toth to make sure that there's no wasted motion. Like with some of his other films, there are too many things that could go wrong and change the story drastically and the ending is rather anticlimactic and a bit of a letdown.

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Serra also delights in bringing subtext out from his material. I also doubt that there has been a modern filmmaker more enamoured by creating a sense of paranoia via people texting and talking on cell phones than Serra. We wanted to kind of repeat the experience [of working together] and give the same experience to the audience. (It's worth noting that the film is a love letter to that director's work through and through, from Rear Window to North by Northwest.) Turns out that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has Joanna on their radar, that other passengers might be playing her game, too, and that she might have cops in her pocket.

And yes, the material is quite silly, overstuffed, and admittedly predictable.

After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop.

"The Commuter" sounds more tastefully sedate by comparison, but don't be fooled. And what we like is a very tight thriller.

That's not necessarily a problem in the Collet-Serra Cinematic Universe, but "The Commuter's" breakneck incoherence - not to mention a generally dour demeanor, shorter on incidental humor than most of the helmer's work - makes it a notch less fun than those previous ex-trash-aganzas.

Ultimately, "The Commuter" is what it is - a January release offering some lukewarm entertainment on a cold night.

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