Thursday, January 11, 2018

‘The Commuter’ is No ‘Taken On a Train’

Movie review for "The Commuter"
Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson in The Commuter. (Lionsgate)

 MOVIE REVIEW 

The first Taken film that starred Liam Neeson in 2009 received fairly good reviews and was a hit with movie-goers. When Taken 2 came out in 2012, the reviews didn’t go so well and fans generally thought the film was “okay.” When Taken 3 came out in 2015, it could have been sub-titled “Oh, Come On!” and needless to say that it received terrible reviews. So now we have Neeson’s latest film, The Commuter, which the trailers have led some to believe that it is really Taken #4. But it’s not. Sure, it’s another thriller/adventure film that eventually presents an unhinged Neeson, but this time, it’s an age appropriate Neeson.

The opening credits does a fantastic job of showing the mundane morning life of a seemingly everyday commuter. The radio clock alarm goes off at the same time every day. Conversations with the family are sometimes playful other times strained. It’s terribly monotonous, no doubt what director Jaume Collet-Serra had it mind. But it sets up the story too. Michael (Neeson) is a 60-year-old insurance man who is happily married and hoping to send their son off to college if they can scrape enough money to do so. Then comes the usual morning commute which shows Michael’s various interactions with fellow passengers over time. He’s been doing this same routine for close to ten with little change in the routine.

After an especially bad day at work, Michael meets up with his friend Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson) at a bar and then it’s back to train for the ride home. While trying to concentrate on reading his book, Michael is interrupted by an overly friendly and talkative stranger who calls herself “Joanna” (Vera Farmiga). She tells him that she likes to observe people and convinces him to participate in an experiment. It seems harmless enough, but soon he realizes that he’s been set up forced to find someone on the train who “doesn’t belong” before the train’s last stop, or harm will come to his family.

The Commuter is sort of a twisted who-dun-it story only none of these “suspects” did it. They one of them did something and Michael struggles to find which one of them that doesn’t fit and why. Sure, the movie’s plot is far-fetched, the story becomes more unbelievable as it goes on and there is even a surprise plot twist that will surprise very few. Still, this is one enjoyable movie. Unlike the Taken movies, this Neeson character doesn’t have it all together. He’s a pawn, victim and hero-want-to-be all at the same time. You want him to win in the end and you know he will, you just don't know how. And however silly some of the last lines are, they are still satisfying to hear,

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