Neeson's fourth collaboration with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) flashes some moments of inspiration, such as an opening montage that pays tribute to the routines of everyday commuters and the multicultural melting pot that frequents public transportation.
What's most tiresome about The Commuter isn't actually how derivative and familiar it is. Despite ten years of service to his company, MacCauley is laid off and dejectedly hops his commuter train to head home and break the bad news to his wife (Elizabeth McGovern). The mechanics of how MacCauley must find the target are overcomplicated and increasingly unbelievable (even for a film like this), with Joanna somehow enjoying nearly godlike powers of surveillance, and the 60-year-old MacCauley undergoing a series of physical challenges that would most likely best a man of 40, let alone an ex-cop who's still in reasonably good shape but has been behind a desk for 10 years (Neeson, to his credit, could do this stuff with his eyes closed but commits to his performance throughout).
The screenplay (credited to Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle) is engaging but at times convoluted in its logistics, especially after the crystalline simplicity of Collet-Serra's shark-versus-girl number The Shallows (2016).
Neeson stars as Michael MacCauley. It's hard to look at The Commuter (Neeson's fourth collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra since 2011) and see what sets it apart from... well, almost everything.
Wilson worked with Neeson on The A-Team, but also worked with the mystery woman, played by Vera Farmiga, in the Conjuring films. There's a schlocky Hitchcock vibe to the whole thing with one-take fistfights standing alongside contra-zooms.
Neeson can pretty much sleepwalk through these types of roles, and his effortless charisma adds depth and sympathy to a sad-sack character.More news: UN Members Criticize US For Calling Meeting On Iran Protests
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Collet-Serra is known for infusing his B-grade movies with slick production values, and that remains the case with The Commuter. "Unknown" and "Non-Stop" are better efforts, but he also was working from better scripts. "A$3 ny time you get a call that says, 'Do a movie with them, ' you say yes".
If you have a MoviePass and you've already used it to catch up on awards season favorites like Lady Bird; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and The Shape of Water, or if you've already seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi six times and don't feel like you could possibly wring another detail from a seventh viewing, you might want to get out this weekend to see Liam Neeson's latest action flick, The Commuter.
The Commuter is out in theaters on Friday, Jan. 12.
During the interview, it was suggested that Neeson take a pay cut to "help even things out".
The Commuter begins playing in USA theaters nationwide tonight.
"The Commuter" opens January 12 in the U.S. It's rated PG-13. We, as men, have got to be part of it, you know?