The Commuter is… Well, it’s a movie.
The Commuter really does live up to it’s name, because it’s as thrilling as a morning commute. It’s essentially everything that I’ve come to dread about theaters in the month of January. From a technical standpoint, it’s not an awful film. In fact, it’s fairly competently made. The script and story though are an illogical mess that is almost painful to watch. However, I’m not angry that I wasted nearly two hours on The Commuter, because you don’t waste anger on things that you care about, and that’s a serious problem when it comes to this “thriller.”
Liam Neeson returns to the geri-action genre as a family man who is forced into a ridiculous situation while on his commute home. Look, I know that movies are never that realistic because, in all honesty, real life is kinda boring. However, The Commuter asks too much of audiences when it comes to suspending disbelief. Neeson’s character is a former detective who is blackmailed into discovering a witness on a train with evidence of a conspiracy in New York City. Now, here’s the catch, the blackmailers have no idea who this witness is or what they look like. So, it’s up to Neeson to discover the identity of this witness in order to save his wife and son. Yet, somehow these blackmailers have enough resources to always be watching him, to be killing people off. It literally starts to hurt your brain if you try to think about it too much.
The ridiculous premise though is hardly the only issue with The Commuter though. I’ve never been sold on the whole geri-action movement. It was fun the first few times, but after three Takens and every other aging actor trying their hand at it to revitalize their careers (Costner, Willis, Stallone, etc), I’m starting to have a hard time believing that they manage to take down villains in time for the early bird special. Though I will admit that the fight scenes in this film are pretty spectacular, especially one of them appears to be done in one shot. This doesn’t do much the suspension of disbelief though since Neeson takes a hell of a beating in all of them. Hey, I’m not saying there aren’t some tough old bastards out there, it’s just that I don’t know many 60-year-olds that can keep kicking after going toe to toe with trained assassins.
The worst of it though is that despite how unbelievably this movie is, with all illogical and complicated plot points, with all of it’s over the top action sequences, The Commuter is boring. It’s not a white-knuckle thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat. No matter how desperately it tries, you’re just not going to gasp in awe as Liam Neeson stealthily checks ticket stubs. The mystery itself is hardly on the same level as Murder on the Orient Express either, as Neeson narrows down his list of suspects. In fact, I took a wild stab and guessed who the mysterious passenger was the moment I saw them. Don’t worry though, I won’t spoil it for you.
With all of this though, I have to give some credit to director Jaume Collet-Serra. He really did the best job that he could with the awful, illogical script he was given by three first time feature writers. There are a few exciting moments in the film that are simply visually fantastic. You can almost feel the directors pain though as he tries to do his absolute best with what he was given. Even Neeson manages to keep a straight face through the redundant, and frankly groan-worthy speeches he’s given to work with. Luckily, he’s got that stern “dad voice” and Irish charm at his disposable to make you at least like him.
Look, I’m just going to be honest. The Commuter is so uninspired that I’m having trouble with coming up with things to say about it. It’s a lackluster movie that is only “Hitchcockian” in the fact that it’s set on a train. It’s a shrug-worthy piece of cinema that is quickly forgotten after leaving the theater, aside from a few action sequences that remain only slightly memorable. It might not be a burden to watch, but it will leave you furrowing your brow as it tries it’s best to distract you from silly things like logic. If you’re looking for an action-packed thrill ride, you’re better off going to the local senior center for bingo night.