‘What kind of person are you?’
Since the runaway success of Taken, Liam Neeson has been remaking that same film over and over. Not just in the various actual sequels to Taken but also in the many similarly abruptly titled projects he has undertaken in the last decade.
Since Taken we have been treated to Unknown, The Grey, Battleship, Third Person, Non-Stop and many others. The plots of all those films can pretty much be condensed down to ‘a crime has been committed, Liam Neeson punches things’. While this may sound like a criticism, coming from me it isn’t. I LOVE cheesy ’80s action movies. I love Jean-Claude and Arnie and all the rest and while Neeson isn’t quite in their league, he is the closest thing that we have to that gritty but cheesy aesthetic that made ’80s cinema so endearing. And so, to The Commuter.
A crime has been committed. Former cop Liam Neeson must unravel a criminal conspiracy in order to save his family. He is on a train.
Now that the plot is out of the way, let’s get down to business. Does Liam Neeson look awesome while punching things. Yes. Is the plot gripping but completely implausible. Yes. Is there lots of jarring comedic relief that adds an extra layer of absurdity to a film that is already pretty nonsensical. Yes, yes and yes. We’ve got ourselves a Liam Neeson classic folks.
Neeson combined with The Commuter director Jaume Collet-Serra to good effect before in 2011’s compelling but forgettable Unknown. The Commuter works better that that film, partly because of the talented supporting cast (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Sam Neill are all varying degrees of excellent) and partly because the premise is so irresistible. Everyone loves a train movie right?
The Commuter is not going to win any Oscars. If there was an award for Liam Neeson punching things on a train however, it would stand a pretty good chance of being involved in that award. Sometimes you want to watch something profound. Sometimes you want to watch something technically brilliant. But for those special occasions when you just want to eat Coco Pops and lounge around on your sofa wearing your bear pyjamas, The Commuter is there for you.