At this point, Liam Neeson trying to save his family while using a cell phone could be its own genre. The Commuter is about a train commuter asked by a stranger to do “one little thing” that leads to a chaotic train ride home.
Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson) is headed home after being laid off from his insurance job. McCauley is approached by a stranger named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who offers him $100,000 to identify a mysterious person on the train and put a device in their bag. McCauley, an ex-cop, has a special set of skills that make him perfect for finding the passenger.
McCauley refuses to help, but once his wife and son are in danger (and he takes the money), he‘s on a hunt to find the mysterious passenger before the trains final stop.
Calling The Commuter, “Taken on a Train” isn’t fair to Taken. Taken wasn’t just Neeson’s first shot as an action star, it was a badass movie that injected new life into the genre. Taken has memorable action scenes and that unforgettable cell phone scene. The Commuter is a lazy action movie that doesn’t add anything new to the genre while also being hilariously predictable.
However, it does have some great movie tropes. 1) a cell phone breaking up right as someone is saying something very important. 2) passengers convinced the protagonist is crazy. 3) a train full of one stereotypical characters. 4) the line “You have no idea who you’re up against” – it makes the shadow villain seem even more shadowy. If you took a shot every time you saw a movie trope, you might not make it home from the theater.
The action in The Commuter isn’t good enough to make up for a flat story and the unoriginal twists and turns. The “big” twist at the end is blatantly obvious, even Steven Wonder could see it coming. Vera Farmiga is by far the best part of the film and she’s has less than 10 minutes of screen time.
There is a train sequence that is so bad. The CGI looks like something from an early 2000’s movie. There are Snapchat filters that look more realistic than the CGI in this movie.
As fun as Neeson’s past action movies are, The Commuter misses the mark. It’s simple and sluggish for most of its runtime. The Commuter did succeed at making me want to watch 2011’s Source Code again – a much better version of this movie.