At this point, could we all just say that Liam Neeson is the higher quality Chuck Norris? I’m frankly surprised their are not as many Neeson jokes/memes/gifs as there are Norris by now. Not counting A Walk Among The Tombstones, Mark Felt, and The Grey, you pretty much know what to expect when walking into a Liam Neeson high-octane action pic. You have your high end ones, like Taken, you have your low end ones, like the Taken sequels, and then you have your very enjoyable turn off your brain middle fare, such as Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night. Thankfully, THE COMMUTER is in that latter category. What is a little funny about this movie pun wise, is that the movie is actually two thirds really really strong before….derailing into lunacy in its final act. But even the derailment is fun and combined with the entire journey, I had a pretty good Neeson of a time.
This honestly could’ve been a sequel to Non-Stop, and I don’t understand why it wasn’t. If you don’t know what Non-Stop was, it was basically Liam Neeson as a air marshal trying to find a potential terrorist on a airplane. The entire movie took place on said airplane, and spoiler alert, Neeson survives the movie. In The Commuter he plays an ex-cop that just got fired from his insurance sales gig he had for ten years, only to be offered by a mystery woman (played by Bates Hotel’s Vera Farmiga) who offers him $100,000 to find a person on a train before a certain stop and tag his/her luggage with a GPS device. So why couldn’t they have said he was an ex-air marshal and just make this a cool little sequel to Non-Stop, ten years later? Who knows, and I guess who cares? I mean, with Liam Neeson’s good but very typecast acting, he basically plays the same character in all these movies (with the except of the three non-actioner movies I mentioned in the first paragraph).
But the movie is fun. It’s fun to watch Neeson using his authority cop like special skills to try and find this specific passenger and I did enjoy several of the mid act twists that I didn’t see coming. The acting and some of the situations with the other passengers get to be a little on the ridiculous side with some of the “secrets” they are hiding, especially in the third act, but all is forgiven because the movie is a solid entertaining 1 hr and 44 minutes that doesn’t let up. And the third act does get a little Looney Tune-y action wise and a couple of more plot twists are thrown at you that I saw coming from minute one, but as that stuff usually bothers me with other films, there is just something about a Liam Neeson actioner where I just put my hands behind my head, relax, and just say, “I’m smiling, I’m having fun, I just don’t give a fuck.”
I mentioned that Vera Farmiga is in this movie above, but if you are going to see the movie because you are a fan of her, word of warning. She is only physically present in two scenes and then is a voice on the phone the rest of the movie. It screams paycheck and that she was on a lot filming something else close by. Sam Neil is relegated to a shock cameo status and Patrick Wilson has a bit more to do but seems like he was on autopilot, phoning it in. But Liam Neeson actually looks like he wants to be there this time. He does his Neeson thing but everything about his performance, while typecast, was enjoyable and believable.
So if you want a good time at the movies for a January, which is usually a dump month studio movie ground for shitty films (except for the ones released limited in December and expand in January), this film is for you. For its bug fuck nuts craziness and fun factor, I would compare this film to the third XXX feature with Vin Diesel that we got last January. To enjoy these kinds of films, you just have to turn your brain off and try not to decipher and pick apart everything for one time out of the year. 2017 was XXX The Return of Xander Cage, 2018 is The Commuter.