Commuter – No Thrill Rides Here

Rating (2 out of 5)

Summary: You achieve great success as the big action hero “Taken” and you are an action hero for life. Liam Neeson delivers another ho-hum performance in this bleak train thriller. The most exciting scene is when he encounters the mysterious woman on the train. Unfortunately, the movie falls downhill from there.

Plot: Michael MacCauley, a 60-year-old ex-cop, returning from the city after being fired from his job as a life insurance salesman. He boards the commuter train home, and a mysterious woman Joanna (Vera Farmiga) talks with him. She challenges him to find the person on the train who doesn’t belong and tag their bag with a GPS chip, and the reward for his service is $100k. This challenge turns to a threat against his family and the whole train.

Detail: A really cool premise. Vera Farmiga delivers the challenge cooly enthralling the viewer with the puzzle and mystery. Even the movie intrigues when he begins identifying the possible people and secretly interviewing.

Had they maintained the psychology of what drives and motivates him, this would be an excellent film, but they resorted to violent threats against his family. The psychology is the unseen versus the mundane physical violence which is tangible. Had the director committed to a scarier unseen/unknown psychological thriller it would have elevated the film, and made “Commuter” very Hitchcockian.

The bad guys were watching the whole time. Michael tags who he believes is the target, but the bad guys are watching and knew this was the wrong selection. Did they absolutely need him? If they knew the incorrect select couldn’t they have had figured the correct person virtually from the initial identification of people Michael provides. The monitoring took away from the mystery of the ride and lazy writing.

The final action scenes prove to be disappointing. First Michael survives a sequence of physical actions that would have been too much for a considerably younger man, never mind an office worker in his 60’s. Then, Michael holds the remaining train occupants hostage and negotiates with police. Yeah, I imagine local law enforecement technology and procedures changed in 10 years since he retired from the force. His level of knowledge of police procedure after that long of duration away made the whole sequence dubious. Finally, the reveal, sweet niblets people, a catchphrase is the bad guys undoing.

The final topper to this crud is the final scene where Michael performs the big arrest. The police hire a 60-year-old back on the force. Not in a million years, not even a white male.