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The Commuter movie review: Taken on the after work express

Liam Neeson is The Commuter
Liam Neeson IS The Commuter

It’s Taken on the After Work Express as Liam Neeson finds himself embroiled in a mystery on a speeding train. Did you see the one where he was on a plane? The Commuter is totally different. This time he’s on a train.

Michael McCauley (Neeson) has a bad day, losing his job selling life insurance, and retirement plans along with it. On the train home, Joanna (Vera Farmiga) makes him an offer he can’t refuse. He’d like to, but they threaten his family unless he finds a passenger to Cold Springs and plants a tracker on their bag.

Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson
Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and Michael (Liam Neeson) have a brief encounter.

It seems like there would be much easier ways for a well funded criminal organization to find the person they’re looking for. It’s putting a lot of faith in a random passenger’s detective abilities, although they did check him out that McCauley was a former cop.

But really, do you want to have a fun Liam Neeson thriller or not? If you bought a ticket to The Commuter, you’ve already agreed that you want to go on this bonkers ride.

The Commuter
Step aside, conductor. Liam Neeson has TAKEN over.

The script (by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi) and director Jaume Collet-Serra certainly find plenty of things for McCauley to do on the train. There are fights in different compartments with different nearby objects. He gets caught under the train at one point and even after a Speed situation, the film has one more trick up its sleeve.

The Commuter explains a very niche industry to the extent the audience needs to know it. You’ll walk away knowing how train ticketing works, as it helps you play along with McCauley’s search for the passenger.

The script also does a good job introducing the passengers so they stand out, and breezing through McCauley’s home life so the exposition doesn’t take long.

Liam Neeson
I keep expecting Liam Neeson to throw someone off the train and claim, “No ticket.”

Michael takes more of a beating than Neeson usually does but then Michael doesn’t have the very particular set of skills Neeson’s other characters have. It makes the fight scenes more improvisational than close quarters combat.

The Commuter is a locomotive thrill ride. I’m not saying it’s as good as Under Siege 2 or Money Train, but it’s up there with Unstoppable and Breakheart Pass!

The Commuter opens January 12, 2018.

Fred Topel has been a journalist since 1999. Over the decades he’s written for About.com, Hollywood.com, CraveOnline, Rotten Tomatoes and Slashfilm. Fred brings Monsters and... read more

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