The Commuter (2018)

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Taken the Train

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Andy Nyman, Jonathan Banks, Florence Pugh, Clara Lago, Elizabeth McGovern, Dean-Charles Chapman, Sam Neill

Insurance salesman Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) has two mortgages on his house, has to find a way to pay for his sons tuition fees, and has just been let go from his job of 10 years. On his daily commute home from work, he crosses paths with a mysterious stranger (Vera Farmiga). She makes him a proposition, to find a mysterious stranger who's travelling on his commuter train that evening. If MacCauley uncovers the strangers identity, he will be reward with $100,000.

The fourth collaboration between Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra, their latest work looks to be rather different from their previous films. Beginning with an impressive showcase of the passage of time, as Neeson's protagonist helps his son through school, gets himself ready for work, and shares moments with his wife, both loving and argumentative. It's a story which bears promise, as Neeson is to rely on his deductive skills to uncover the mysterious traveller, looking to be an intriguing deviation from his standard action film.

Image result for the commuter youtubeUnfortunately, this promise is rapidly dashed, as the screenplay can't disregard this element quick enough. Once it's gotten that out of the way, the film descends into a typical Neeson exploitation film, settling into the typical rhythms. Threat of a kidnapped spouse? Check. Our 60 year old protagonist fighting in a manner befitting a 20 something man, while pulling off ridiculous feats that defy logic? Check. Neeson punching his way through his problems? Check.

Bar the train setting, this film is indistinguishable from the other actioners he headlines, with a talented supporting cast wasted on nothing roles. Collet-Serra tries his best with the material, but through the yawn worthy fights and glaring CGI, it's an uphill battle. There is one scene which appears to have been done in one take which is initially impressive, but with the amount of scenes which obscure Neeson's face, the seams are more than noticeable.

If you enjoyed the previous instalments of "Liam Neeson punching his problems away", then chances are you'll get your moneys worth from The Commuter. It's just a shame the film lacks its own identity, pushing its promise away at the first opportunity for more of the same.

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