- Don Ford
Don Reviews "The Commuter"
The director is one of the most important jobs on a film, and oddly, some long-term directors get a reputation that just keeps getting them work, like Terrence Malick (which our entire crew just does not seem to understand). The bar of expectation can instantly be set just by knowing who the director is, especially when top actors work multiple times with a specific director, like Ron Howard and Tom Hanks or Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. With the film I am about to review, I saw the case where a director is working with a specific actor for the fourth time, and it worried me a little after seeing “Run All Night” and “Non-Stop” as well as his work in “The Shallows”.
“The Commuter” is the new film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and stars Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler’s List), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed), Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Hard Candy), Jonathan Banks (Gremlins, Mudbound), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, The Piano), Elizabeth McGovern (Ordinary People, Swung) and Colin McFarlane (Collision, The Dark Knight). This is the story of Michael (Neeson), a former New York City policeman who takes the train regularly to commute to his current job of life insurance, where he has been for ten years. Having financial troubles with the costs of trying to send his son to a Stanford University, he gets laid off at the age of sixty. On his commute home, a female stranger names Joanna (Farmiga) comes up with a proposition of giving him $100,000 to simply help her find someone on the train who has stolen property she and her employers want back. Michael agrees to help after he figures out that he is not only being watched paired with the fact that they state they have his wife and son as their own insurance.
The film mostly takes place on the train, with a few good city shots showing New York well. There is some CGI, and one scene that impressed me visually was towards the end. When it comes to the acting, there are a ton of what I would call minor supporting roles, but it was basically lead by Neeson. He does an OK job, but this is not his best role by far because this seems to be another attempt to bring in his character from “Taken,” but not nearly as good.
The premise is OK, but the execution falls flat, especially with a director who has done films like this in the past like “Non-Stop”. This is in a way a remake of that film set on a train instead of in the air, even with the same lead actor. I thought that film was OK at best, and this is not even that good. There is also a major suspension of dis-belief in this film, adding to the misery. If you have already seen “non-Stop”, then you have already seen this film and do not waste your time. The only way I would every possibly watch this film again is if it is on TV and nothing g else is on and only to see the clues that you missed the first time to figure out the ending.