Tuesday, April 10, 2018

'The Commuter' Avoids Getting Derailed

Despite having played characters like Darkman, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Ra’s al Ghul, Liam Neeson wasn’t really considered a true “action star” until he played the iconic role of Bryan Mills in Taken.  Since then, he has played the Bryan Mills-type hero a couple of times in mediocre-to-solid action movies like Unknown, The Grey, Non-Stop, and Run All Night.  The latest one, The Commuter, could be one of my most favorite post-Taken action movies of his.

In it, Neeson plays the character of Michael, an insurance salesman who goes to work by commuting back and forth via train.   On a trip home, he is approached by a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who asks him to take part in an “experiment” – a hypothetical scenario which will have consequences that he would know nothing about, but would affect one of the passengers on the train.  However, this proves to be not hypothetical at all, and he gets entangled in a criminal conspiracy that not only threatens his life but the lives of his family and his co-passengers as well.
The Commuter is far from being an excellent movie.  But it could have been worse.  It’s the type of movie that could have gone completely off the rails (like Taken 3).  It thankfully doesn’t.  And by keeping my expectations realistic and reasonable, I had a fun time with it.

The plot isn’t tight and flawless, but as it unfolds, it does engage adequately, thanks to the enjoyable twists and turns (though some of them will probably fall apart when scrutinized), competent performances from its cast, and a consistent sense of urgency and mystery.

All in all, albeit problematic, The Commuter does enough to solidly entertain as a popcorn action thriller.

No comments: