Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Commuter is very much a Liam Neeson action thriller. As such it is a bit silly but entertaining throughout.
Michael MacCauley is an insurance salesman who has done the same commute to work for ten years. On his way home one day, he is given an intriguing proposition. Yet things aren’t quite what they seem…
One of the more unexpected genres to emerge in the last ten years is the Liam Neeson movie. The characteristics are clear; Neeson is the gruff antagonist (with the specific set of skills) put in an unlikely but dangerous situation. These films have had varying degrees of success.
The Commuter is director Jaume Collet-Serra’s fourth collaboration with Liam Neeson. And the film does suffer from some of the same issues as its predecessors. Like Non-Stop and Unknown, viewers will have to suspend their disbelief with the increasingly far-fetched narrative. Nevertheless, whilst the incredulity can get tiresome in the earlier collaborations, The Commuter plays on this in an effective manner. The plot offers an interesting premise, which quickly stretches the realms of believability with every twist. Yet as this occurs, Collet-Serra ramps up the action and intensity to keep viewers engaged.
The film delivers an air of mystery with its premise, and protagonist Michael’s search for the mystery passenger. The screenwriters attempt to evoke a Hitchcockian level of suspense, and indeed there are parallels with The Lady Vanishes. Although The Commuter does not quite match the style it emulates, it is still very enjoyable. The dialogue offers lines which can only be tongue-in-cheek. The action is well executed, and the momentum is build effectively. Liam Neeson does his regular gruff action hero schtick. Vera Farmiga is decent in a small role.
Jaume Collet-Serra is clearly growing and improving in the action thriller genre. Whilst The Commuter is at times predictable and silly, it is finely paced and a lot of fun.