The Commuter

 

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Liam Neeson is made a dubious offer he can’t refuse. In spite of the odds, his character is a little more choosy…

 

Commuter, The
  

Michael MacCauley thinks he’s having a bad day. Drowning in debt and mortgaged to the hilt, he discovers that he has to summon up another small fortune in order to fund his son through college. And MacCauley is sixty-years-old. Then, on the same day, he’s made redundant at work – after ten years of hard slog for the same insurance company. In shock, MacCauley is unable to break the news to his wife, who has a habit of saying, “we’ll find a way – we always do.” But, this being a Liam Neeson action-thriller, the waste matter hasn’t even hit the fan yet… At its best, The Commuter is a ‘what if?’ film. What if you could pocket $100,000 for performing one small task, even if it proved detrimental to a complete stranger? At his lowest ebb, Michael MacCauley is presented with such an offer…

 

Like the 2014 release Non-Stop, The Commuter stars Liam Neeson as a man trapped in a confined space and tasked with achieving a particular mission by an unseen, all-seeing malevolent presence. Then it was on a plane, now it’s on a train. And both films were directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The Spanish director is obviously a dab hand at concept thrillers. He also brought us Unknown (2011) and Run All Night (2015), both with Liam Neeson, and he displays a strong visual flair. The opening scenes of The Commuter are particularly striking, in which MacCauley stumbles through a series of identical early morning starts, before kissing his wife goodbye (or not) and boarding his train for Manhattan. And at Grand Central Station he lumbers across the main concourse while the passengers around him dissolve into apparitions. Thus, Collet-Serra’s latest film is something of a guilty pleasure, particularly as we gradually become acquainted with MacCauley’s fellow travellers, any one of whom might prove to be the key to the plot.

 

Liam Neeson is a unique leading man. He is the poster boy for the geriatric action-hero, but he also brings a human integrity to his shop-worn characters. Here, he does very nicely until he succumbs to the director’s characteristic flights of the ridiculous. What could have been a white-knuckle suspenser is inevitably reduced to an insane conspiracy fantasy in which the impossible becomes all too probable. Sadly, it is the most nonsensical hokum we’ve seen in a cinematic aeon, albeit with the occasional chuckle.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill, Dean-Charles Chapman, Shazad Latif, Andy Nyman, Florence Pugh, Clara Lago, Killian Scott, Ella-Rae Smith, Colin McFarlane, Damson Idris, Letitia Wright.

 

Dir Jaume Collet-Serra, Pro Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, Screenplay Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle, Ph Paul Cameron, Pro Des Richard Bridgland, Ed Nicolas de Toth, Music Roque Baños, Costumes Jill Taylor.

 

Ombra Films/StudioCanal/The Picture Company-StudioCanal.

104 mins. UK/USA/Canada/France. 2018. Rel: 19 January 2018. Cert. 15.