The Commuter - 2018
Director(s): Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer(s): Byron Willinger, Phillip de Blasi and Ryan Engle
Cinematography by: Paul Cameron
Editor(s): Nicolas De Toth
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks and Sam Neill
Synopsis: A businessman is caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute home (IMDB).
We have seen Neeson on a plane, on a submarine, on a mountain, in a car and now we have the pleasure of watching him in a train. He also recently announced that he is retiring from action movies and, while I enjoyed him in Taken and The Grey, this movie proves he made the right decision in retiring from the action genre. I would love to see him get back to his dramatic roots. He plays an insurance salesman/retired cop who, on the day he loses his job, is offered a job by a mysterious woman, to identify a stranger within the train he rides daily.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly: yes, this movie is as bad as the trailer makes it out to be. It doesn’t make sense whatsoever, and the ending is just as convenient as the editing choices made during the fight sequences. Neeson gives it his all as he usually does, and there are some good moments of him reacting to the circumstances, but nothing that makes you forget about the horrible premise and action.
This movie has a few fight scenes with Neeson versus a younger guy and all the punches, kicks and throws are sped up in post. You can clearly see how the punch starts off in a normal rhythm and is fast forwarded to the face of the victim. There are multiple jump cuts to try to sell the action and the “violence” of these two men engaging in fisticuffs in the confines of a train cart. I would pay a lot of my “hard” earned money to see the raw footage of this fights. Of them gingerly “attacking” each other and the director assuring them that they will look fast and hard after the are done editing them.
I’m sorry. This won’t be a normal review. In order for me to explain why this movie is so bad I have to spoil the movie. So, jump to the last paragraph if you want to read my conclusion and avoid spoilers.
The premise of this movie plays with our sense of disbelief as if it was play dough, stretching it to a point that it hurt my brain. The main premise is Neeson is offered $100K to identify a passenger that doesn’t belong on his train. Since he is a former cop and he rides the same train for the past ten years he is the best person to do so. Sure, because people never visit cities and ride the train system. People never have car issues and need to ride the train system. People don’t start using the train system after moving from another state. It’s always the same set of people no matter what so a new person will stand out like a sore thumb. Who is this passenger you may ask? Well, she witnessed a murder and she needs to be silenced.
They give Neeson a GPS tracker and all he has to do is identify her and place the tracker on her bag. This is beyond stupid since the FBI is waiting for her in the last stop and even if she has a GPS tracker, she will be in FBI custody, telling them what she saw and handing over the hard drive full of evidence. Also, why in the hell would the FBI not be with her from the very beginning. That’s not how protective custody works. Hey, you are a vital witness to our murder investigation, can you meet us at the train station hours away from where you live. I mean we could pick you up but it would save us a lot of gas.
Another thing is that they almost give the people working behind this plan an omnipotent power- controlling cops, having his house bugged, having multiple employees (pick-pocketes, killers and messengers) and they don’t know who the witness is!? No clue, they know everything that is happening everywhere EXCEPT who this witness is. Oh, and the nail in the coffin of their plan is that they derail the train when Neeson refuses to give the witness up. Why didn’t you just derail the train and kill the witness from the very beginning. What’s with the overly complicated plot thread?
So, the train is derailed and Neeson and a few of the commuters (including the witness) survive in a train car. They block the windows with newspapers and they wait because Neeson assumed that the people behind this sinister plan had snipers outside of the random place this random train car landed after the plan B derailment occurred. Then comes the big reveal that was telegraphed 200 miles away, the murder was committed by cops. Neeson, when he loses his job, goes to a bar and has a drink with his former partner, Patrick Wilson and, yeah, you guessed it, Wilson betrays Neeson. Because there can only be one actor with a last name ending in SON. Wilson’s plan is to go in the car full of commuters and kill all of them and blame Neeson. Even though they are surrounded by cops that will rush inside as soon as the first gunshot is fired. MY HEAD!
The ending. He manages to kill Wilson and all the misunderstandings are resolved quickly. The family comes to the crash site and gives him the worst reception ever. This man just survived a train crash, survived a conspiracy against him and just killed what he thought was his best friend and all he gets is a “hey there” and a “hi dad”. The end shot is Vera Farmiga, who is the woman who offered the $100K, in another train (comes full circle) and Neeson, now a full-time cop again, arrests her. THE END. The Commuter is the last attempt by both Hollywood and Neeson to recapture the lightning in the bottle that was Taken. A horrible premise and a script filled with plot holes that would derail any decent movie, the only saving grace would’ve been the action and that fell beyond short. The only good thing that comes out of this movie is that fact that it’s his last. Neeson coming back to the dramatic genre is why I love movies.
The Commuter is currently playing in theaters. Skip it.
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