The Commuter

Michael is 60 years old, and after a lifetime of working hard and doing everything right, he and his wife are living hand to mouth with tuition to be paid and second mortgages due when he gets laid off from his job selling insurance in the city.

On the sad commute home, he meets Joanna, who asks him to do just “one little thing”, an experiment she calls it, because she’s a psychopath. But she’s offering cash money as a reward, so of course he’s tempted. And by tempted I mean he makes a beeline to the washroom to retrieve the money, which of course sets into motion a whole thing.

Liam Neeson gets into another sticky situation

How on earth has it come to this?

Joanna (Vera Farmiga) is asking of Michael (Liam Neeson) quite a lot, in fact: his commuter train is carrying a witness to a crime, and if he doesn’t find and kill the witness, they’re going to kill his whole family, whom he loves, which we know from a montage of monotony\suburban bliss.

I feel like all the right building blocks are assembled here, not least of all a terrific cast, including Neeson and Sam Neill, who make the material better than it is. But the script leaves out essential elements like suspense and intrigue, instead hitting overly familiar beats, which makes the whole thing drab and predictable. It feels plucked out of the recycle bin, which is insulting. Then again, the trailer did everything in its power to warn me away by collecting the 90 seconds worth of interesting, original thought and stringing them all together in a way that then did not play out satisfyingly in the movie. Like, why would a married couple ever remind each other of being married by flashing their rings at each other, EXCEPT in the case that those rings would momentarily become a plot point? I remember making fun of that so bad when I saw the trailer – and I began fancily revealing my ring to Sean so that I could mock the movie even as I cannily avoided seeing it in cinemas by conveniently forgetting that it existed. Ooooh, look, I’m showing you this right you bought me a long time ago that I have worn every single day since to the point where it’s not even considered jewelry anymore, it’s just a slightly shinier piece of my body that’s supposed to discourage others from flirting with me but generally doesn’t.

But anyway, back to the review, the gist of which is: not so much. It’s a mystery that you don’t really care about, a story that isn’t exactly fresh, and a premise that feels pretty goddamn ludicrous. It’s a “what you would do” that could have begun and ended with a simple ‘Don’t talk to strangers.’

 

 

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16 thoughts on “The Commuter

  1. Kariyanine

    Great review, I too forgot this existed. But now you’ve jogged my memory and also that I wear a wedding band which I am now spinning around my finger because I can’t get it off anymore. Oh well… I’ll probably go back to forgetting both as soon as I hit send on this comment.

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  2. Birgit

    It does look like a dumb movie and I will probably see it once it is on TV. I wish Liam would start making more films that are not action oriented because he is such a great actor. Now I better show my ring to my hubby…oops..I don’t have one yet

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  3. J.

    Jeez. Another Neeson actioner… how did this happen? He’s kinda fell into being a ‘big budget Seagal’. Only he’s a random guy in this? No Special Ops background?

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  4. Tom

    Yeah, nailed it. I mean these team-ups Neeson have done with Jaume Collet-Serra have been generally the same formula. There really is not much difference at all between this and Non-Stop. But here the recycle bin of movie cliches was just shamelessly apparent. I kept my standards low for The Commuter, and still I left disappointed.

    I did like that single from Cosima though, the song playing in the girl’s headphones. I was thankful for that at least!

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  5. Widdershins

    This doesn’t even rate a ‘not terrible’ from me … It feels like Liam Neeson had one movie left in him so it kept getting remade, over and over … which is a shame, I doubt it’s because he needs the money.

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  6. D. Wallace Peach

    “…the script leaves out essential elements like suspense and intrigue…” Lol. I haven’t been a fan of Liam since his movies seem to lack originality. I think producers hire him to save plots that can’t be saved. Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

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