If you're a fan of Neeson's other action films you will enjoy The Commuter.
"We're starting and it's starting with these extraordinary actresses and courageous ladies and we as men have got to be part of it, you know?"
As written by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle, "The Commuter" has a lot in common with "Non-Stop", which cast Neeson as a US air marshal with an alcohol problem who has to prevent a serial killer from doing his worst on a trans-Atlantic flight. But that's not to deny the transient pleasures of "The Commuter", a film that enthusiastically puts the humble passenger auto through nearly as many mechanical acrobatics as any "Fast and Furious" hot rod, in the process gifting us with the line, "Between the train and the people, I always knew it would be the train".
The action escalates, with Neeson nervously traversing the length of the train enough times to either look like a terrorist himself or someone at extreme risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Jaume Collet-Serra's film is the latest entry in the Liam Neeson Action Era, launched by 2008's "Taken", whereby a male lead pushing the boundaries of his middle age summons brutal and surprising physical skills to fight the insidious forces of evil, usually on behalf of his family. The Commuter is their fourth team-up and a welcome return to their established actor-director dynamic following their last, 2015's Run All Night, a well-meaning movie that's sorely mistaken about its own importance.
Neeson is really what keeps "The Commuter" from flying off the rails. Nevertheless, a Liam Neeson movie is a Liam Neeson movie. There, he's greeted by a Hitchcockian stranger on the train (Vera Farmiga) who explains that McCauley will make $100,000 on his ride home if he can only find the person on the train "who doesn't belong". "What kind of person are you?" she asks. NOT so little it turns out because she has murder on her mind. While on the ride home on the commuter train, he is approached by a odd woman who proposes a hypothetical: if he could track down one person on the train who doesn't seem to belong and identify them with a Global Positioning System tracking device, would he do so with the promise of a $100,000 reward, regardless of the unknown consequences to the identified party?
In "The Commuter", Neeson plays an ex-cop (of course) who is being forced to assist in an assassination attempt on a commuter train in order to protect his wife and son.
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That's all he has to go on, and he soon realizes he has eyes on him watching his every move.
Here's a more pertinent and confounding hypothetical: Why, if Joanna - or whoever she's working for - wants "Prynne" dead, as it turns out, does she go to the trouble of making Mike do her dirty work, when it would be far simpler to just blow up the train?
Whether we ultimately get that remains to be seen, but we are certainly going to continue seeing Neeson as the hard-edged, action hero he has firmly become.
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