The Commuter



19 January 2018| No Comments on The Commuter     by Sean Chavel



The first action-suspense pic for the new year is a diverting midlevel yarn, it’s no genre trendsetter (more derivative if anything). But it’s got Liam Neeson going for it and tasteful mindless fun going for it. The Commuter is Neeson’s umpteenth take since 2008’s “Taken” as the everyman thrown into a life-and-death situation. Neeson recently said that now that he’s “65 (expletive) years old, I’m too old to make action movies anymore” and this will be his last bruiser, thus, he will supposedly return to respectable dramas only. Neeson is still good in these types of movies, and I think he could have gone on another five years, but something about his declaration from exiting the genre must have inspired him on this last outing. He seems to have put in more effort than usual for this suspense on a train picture.

On the day that Michael MacCauley (Neeson) is fired from a big company where he depended on the benefits, he finds himself propositioned with a hypothetical on his commuter train home by the lovely stranger Joanna. Vera Farmiga occupies a certain dangerous beauty on the sophisticated side as Joanna, and while she only has small appearances, it’s a real bonus having her instead of an easily detectable bad guy. The proposition turns out to be not a hypothetical but a real dare.

MacCauley is directed to the bathroom cabin to help himself to $25,000 – which he needs to pay for his son’s college tuition, among other bills – which also signals he must now go all in and complete the mission as ordered, for which he will receive another $75,000. MacCauley’s objective is to find a passenger named Prin before the Cold Spring stop, and place a tracking device in the bag of that said person. That’s not a lot of information to go on, he grouses, but it helps if MacCauley can narrow down on who is getting off at Cold Spring. Of course, there comes a breaking point where he learns this is bigger than a game, and he becomes frightened for his own life and his family left at home when he realizes there is a nasty conspiracy behind all this.

Many developments are absurd, but the movie keeps you guessing. That a conspiratorial mob wants a stranger to do their dirty work instead of doing it on their own feels very convoluted, does it not? It is convoluted, but the movie has a fair explanation at the end that does a decent, if not airtight job, of tying up all loose ends. I like Neeson in this type of movie where he is a desperate man on the clock trying to make life and death decisions quickly.

The director is Jaume Collet-Serra (“The Shallows” and “Non-Stop”), a great eye who loves bringing a crackling noir-ish style to this kind of lower end studio B-project. Collet-Serra always seems to be having fun making this kind of movie, and when his name is attached, I seem to find him reliable to deliver an above-average watchability because he’s good with atmosphere and incisive visuals. Collet-Serra opens the movie with a terrific montage of all the mornings that have consumed MacCauley’s life in the last decade or so, with rising from bed, making coffee, having conflicts or epiphanies with his wife and son, driving to work engaged or disengaged, fighting family and loving family, and so on. The movie was barely starting and I was already having a good time.


104 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Non-Stop” (2014); “Last Passenger” (2014, United Kingdom); “The Girl on the Train” (2016); “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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