The Commuter – Movie Review – A formulaic and overlong journey.

Non Stop but instead of being on an airplane, it’s on a train. That’s what I immediately thought when I saw the trailer for The Commuter, and that’s what I imagined the film was described as when it was being pitched to the studio. Liam Neeson has spent the past decade playing the same typecast role in the same type of films, and I guess there isn’t anything wrong with that as long as they are entertaining. The problem is only a couple of them are, which side does this film fall upon? Good or bad. Allow me to answer that for you.

This film follows Michael (Liam Neeson) an insurance salesman who whilst on one of his routine daily commutes home, is asked a number of hypothetical questions by a mysterious woman named Joanna(Vera Farmiga). Soon he learns that the situation he was proposed isn’t hypothetical, and that he has now been thrusted into a criminal conspiracy in which he must identify an individual on the train.

Liam Neeson is a little more than typecast Liam Neeson in this film, at least in the beginning. We follow him on his day to day routine and we learn a little about his family and the work he does. For once he isn’t playing the cool, calm and collective highly trained ass kicker, but he did used to be a cop. Anyway my point is Liam is fine in the role like he always is, he handles the earlier aspects of the material he is given pretty well. As the film moves forward the material begins to steer him more and more into the typecast role that he is popular for today, and if you have seen his film Non Stop then you should have an idea of what to expect. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga and Sam Neill all appear in supporting roles of varying importance. All three of them were also fine, the script didn’t really give them a whole lot to work with but they made their characters watchable to say the least.

The script and the film overall is bland and formulaic, also the dialogue is repetitive and loaded with exposition. There’s actually a character in the film who towards the end, starts yelling out what’s occurring on screen as if the audience weren’t intelligent enough to see and understand what is happening. It’s somewhat insulting as a viewer. The story itself is isn’t engaging, I just felt the type of disconnect you wouldn’t want the audience to feel whilst watching a film of this nature. The actual task at hand wasn’t interesting enough to leave me compelled to uncover all the secrets. As if that wasn’t bad enough around the halfway point it all started to become predictable. By the time the third act comes around there’s a moment which the film tries to play as a major surprise, but it wasn’t surprising at all because it was easy to work out by that point.

Jaume Collet-Serra’s direction is mediocre at best, it doesn’t replicate the same level of visual flair that he displayed on his most recent film, The Shallows. Even Non Stop (which he also directed) was directed better than this. He failed to do anything inventive with the concept or with the somewhat isolated setting of the train. As for the action, it’s mostly shot and edited poorly. At times it became very hard to follow with the camera whizzing around the place. This was evident in a seemingly one take fight sequence that was clearly inspired by the Church Massacre scene in Kingsman, except it just wasn’t executed with the same level of energy and finesse.

The icing on the cake here is the pace, this film felt far longer than it is. There’s a point where it feels like we are reaching the film’s climax and are merely five or so minutes away from the end, except it wasn’t. There was still at least another twenty minutes and I just spent the rest of that time, anticipating the moment where the credits began to roll.

Overall The Commuter is formulaic, bland, predictable and far too long. It’s not that engaging, the direction is mediocre at best and Liam Neeson is just fine. If you want to watch this one then you’re better off waiting for it to appear on Netflix.


(2 Stars out of 5)


The Commuter – Starring Liam Neeson, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Jonathan Banks and Sam Neill.

Directed by Jayme Collet-Serra.

Now showing in U.K. cinemas.

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