The Commuter

Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is a devoted husband, father, and provider who commutes by train every day for ten years to his New York office to provide for his family. Michael is facing big pressures as he has a son about to go to college and another ready to follow behind him. When Michael tells a client he lost his savings when the markets fell, he is leveraged deep and looking for help.

When his job is abruptly ended five years from retirement, Michael is unsure of how he will reveal the news to his wife. After a few drinks with his ex-partner Lt. Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson), Michael opens up about his situation and how things seemed simpler at times when he was on the force.

On his way home, Michael has his phone stolen and is in time approached by a mysterious lady (Vera Farmiga), who gives him a hypothetical scenario which could be worth 100K to Michael.

Michael scoffs at the idea and then learns the offer is very serious and has very serious and deadly consequences to his family, fellow riders, and one mysterious and unknown passenger that Michael is tasked with finding before the train reaches its destination.

Under constant surveillance and unsure who he can trust, Michael is an a race against time to unravel the situation he finds himself in and needs every ounce of his wits and prior police experience to protect those he loves.

What follows is a fast paced, intense, but at times reaching film that does offer some excitement and thrills as long as you are willing to overlook various plot holes. The film moves briskly and has a good amount of intensity, but has plenty of holes that has you wondering why certain paths were and were not taken and requires leaps of faith to work.

The final act does become very “Hollywood” and detracts from a promising setup and the big twist was one that I saw coming a way off, but I often see twists in film early as that is simply how my mind works. The film could have been easily dismissed at times but the charismatic Neeson always holds your attention even when the material is thin.

In the end “The Commuter” is an entertaining film that delivers some fun thrills and suspense as long as you are willing to temper your expectations and overlook the issues.

3 stars out of 5

Second Review byJoseph K. Saulnier

Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is having a bad day. Like a really bad day. He’s a retired cop who is now working in insurance sales, well he was. He lost his job. When commuting on the train trying to figure out how he is going to tell his wife and son, the latter being just accepted into a university, a woman (Vera Farmiga) approaches him with an interesting offer. There is someone on the train who does not belong, and she wants him to find that person. If he does, Michael will get $100,000. But soon enough, Michael realizes there’s a larger conspiracy at play here and he must choose between the completing the task and keeping the money without knowing what will happen to the person, or walk away with his family in danger. This is not his regular commute.

I really wanted to love this film. I really did. I can honestly say, I loved the first half. The film had a lot going for it. The plotline is an interesting concept, and while it has been used before it has a new spin on it with the setting of the train commute. The cinematography was excellent. They bring the audience in right away with an unconventional way of showing Michael’s commute as being a daily thing full of routines, smiles, cries, and everything in between. The use of the space on the train is fantastic as we scuttle through the first couple of fight sequences in the film. The supporting cast is amazing, which includes the likes Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, and Sam Neill. Then a flip switched.

It happened about two-thirds of the way through the film. The somewhat fresh and creative presentation of the plot and characters was all for naught when the film literally reverted to every cheesy action movie cliché there can be. How many times is Captain Hawthorne (Neill) going to tell the snipers to let him know when they have a clear shot (seriously, you’d die if it was a drinking game). Completely unrealistic action sequences, multiple quippy one-liners, and an ending that you see coming a mile away. I can’t really describe much more without giving you too much of the plot away, but just know that it got really bad.

That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining, even if for all the wrong reasons. I laughed, but wasn’t ever really tense like you should be at an action film watching, waiting to see what was going to happen to our main characters. Instead, I was in my seat, relaxed, just looking for the next cheesy cliché. And if it weren’t for Liam Neeson carrying the film, as he can, I am not sure I would have been happy with this at all. Maybe this will be the end of the line for Neeson in his action career. Who knows?

If you’ve seen everything else that you want to in theaters, and really want to go to a movie, then check it out. Otherwise, I would highly recommend waiting for home release, or better yet just Red Box/Netflix it when it becomes available.

2 stars out of 5