There’s something truly gleeful in the power of simplicity…
Pairing and combinations in Hollywood are quite common, but who knew that the pairing of Director Jaume Collet Serra and Liam Neeson; now together for the fourth time here with The Commuter would be able to produce the kind of high octane entertainment that they’ve continued to make over the years. It’s simple, straight forward action fun and these two men have truly reinvented this cottage industry of above average action/thriller movies produced at a reasonably sized budget and in an age where movies have to either cost $3 million or $300 million in order to make some money.
The monotonous nature of the daily commute is something that we all get wrapped up in and it’s no different for Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) an ex-New York Cop turned insurance salesman until his bad day turns even worse. He gets fired and with no clue what to tell his wife once he gets home, until he is approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) who offers him up a fascinating hypothetical situation which turns into something where he is in possession of $100,000 that he sorely needs, but someone on the train is marked for assassination and they want him to point the finger at the right person! In a race against time, can he deescalate this ever growing criminal conspiracy, find out whose involved and save everyone on the train before its final destination?
If you’re thinking that this sounds like absolute nonsense; we’ll admit that you’re not wrong, but that’s why The Commuter just works so damn well. Putting our favourite bad ass every man into an impossible situation that he has to find his way out of and nailing us to the edges of our seats while they do it.
I will unequivocally go on record and state that Jaume Collet Serra has gotten this type of locked in action down to a science. Locking into an effective setup that rides us throughout, Serra establishes the ride we’re about take and never lets us go even for a split second. With sharp editing and solid yet believable visual effects, he secures us in for the worst (or from our perspective) most thrilling train ride since a young Eric Roberts and Jon Voight boarded the Runaway Train back in 1985. It’s the bang for your buck filmmaking as every penny ends up on the screen and he’s never trying to give or portray and lofty ideals, he simply puts a man or a woman in an impossible situation and forces them to go above and beyond in order to get the hell out of it. Its cause, effect and solution all up on the screen in a very entertaining fashion thanks to a hellacious leading man who has managed to transcend most roles he plays.
Much like Harrison Ford before him and while officially on the high side of his 60’s; Liam Neeson has morphed his career into becoming the unquestioned king of ass kicking dads. He rightly never brings any overly heroic beats into the roles that he is playing; because we so easily get behind his everyman character that young or old we call kind of wish that we were him. Serra and Neeson together have truly found that sweet spot and they are mining it for everything that they possibly can. It’s a solid and effective formula that never gets enough credit, and while Neeson at this point is basically playing Neeson; there’s nothing wrong with that because within the context of the narrative and the image that he has already crafted for himself it works pretty damn well. There isn’t much of a support cast around him, but there isn’t supposed to be as Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Jonathan Banks and Sam Neill all get some quite little moments to shine.
It’s never going to be high art, and quite frankly it’s not supposed to be but for a fun afternoon or evening at the cinema, The Commuter will pass the time a lot better than your average afternoon commute will.