Liam Neeson's The Commuter Is Anything but Routine

The Commuter

Starring Liam Neeson, the film marks theactor's fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, and echoes their last transit-based thriller, "Non-Stop". The script has the potential to be so much more, such as a Hitchcockian thriller on the train, but it only turns into a missed opportunity. Regardless, Taken on a train isn't the wisest idea because the franchise has been overdone.

The film doesn't gain much traction from its familiar claustrophobic setting aboard a crowded train, nor does it take much time to ponder the moral complexity inherent in its thin ticking-clock premise.

By the time he regrets accepting the assignment, Michael's suburban family is being threatened by thugs, and he's forced to rely on his own resourcefulness to spare his own life and those of his fellow passengers. On his commute home, a odd woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) approaches him with a tantalizing, yet vague offer - using his skills as an ex-cop, he mustlocate a person on the train who "doesn't belong" and place a tracking device on them in exchange for $100,000. Telling him that she studies human behavior, she wants to know what he would do if someone offered him a very high financial reward for finding someone on the train with a bag that contains stolen property.

Eventually, Michael gets more and more hysterical in the search for the elusive passenger known only as "Prin" (intentionally misspelled to preserve the mystery), attempting to loop his former partner (Patrick Wilson) into the situation, oddly interrogating everyone including a young ticket taker (Adam Nagaitis), an obnoxious yuppie broker (Shazad Latif), and a scared nurse (Clara Lago), and getting more and more confused as to the conspiracy that has been so carefully orchestrated around him. He's an ordinary man who happens to find himself in an unfortunate circumstance.

When asked how the industry could remedy the issue and close the gap, Neeson said he's seen progress.

Lady MacBeth star Florence Pugh delivers a performance that's highly unrecognizable as college student Gwen but the actress is certainly a star on the rise.

Collet-Serra is artful in hiscinematography, particularly in his use of continuous long takes to explore the vast expanse of the train. While the roles may be smaller, everyone is a possible suspect. And he manages to get in several knock-down, drag-out fights with others, which barely give anyone else on the train pause. Working with cinematographer Paul Cameron (Collateral, Dead Man Down), Collet-Serra stylishly maps out the internal layout of the film's central set piece and keeps things visually engaging, in spite of the unchanging foreground scenery.

The Commuter opens in theatres on Friday, Jan 12.

I have to let you in on a little secret: if I'm home alone, have no work hanging over my head, all the shows I'm now watching are caught up, there's nothing I have to watch for work and no Okjas or other zeitgeist-y things I feel I have to watch, I'm gonna turn towards Liam Neeson... or Nicolas Cage.

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