My first reaction to hearing of Liam Neeson’s new movie The Commuter was “oh no! not again! this movie will be Taken part god knows what now!” I have to admit I made a mistake. I thoroughly enjoyed The Commuter, and have new found respect for Liam Neeson.
All associations with Taken series of movies have to be left at the cinema door, and one should purely enjoy this movie on its own merit.
The premise of the movie is downright intriguing and suspenseful. Michael, husband to his doting wife Karen, and father to his son Danny, commutes to work daily and has a small of group of friends he meets with every day on the train. However, this day, Michael has been laid off from work, and with two mortgages taken out and a son to put through college, he doesn’t know what to do.
Once aboard the train, he realizes his cell phone has been pickpocketed which further dampens his day.
A mysterious woman by the name of Joanna sits across from Michael and proposes an interesting proposition. She poses a hypothetical situation to him: “what if I told you that you had to one little thing?” Michael is intrigued and asks what it is. She tells him that he needs to find a certain person on board this train and track down his baggage. He asks why he would do something like this. She tells him that he will get $100,000 if he manages to find the person, who goes by the name “Prynne.” Plus, there is $25,000 hidden in the toilet to start him off!
Of course, till now, the conversation is all hypothetical, but she further pushes him and tells him there is money hidden in the toilet. And, oh yes, there is a deadline too– the person needs to be found before the train stops at Cold Springs, which is four stops away! With that, she gets up to leave the train and asks Michael to question one thing: “What kind of man are you?”
Michael is of course confused at this point and shrugs it off. But the money is much needed, and so against better judgment, he actually finds the money hidden in the toilet.
What follows is an extremely suspenseful, cat and mouse game, all set in the confined space of the train. Michael has to find Prynne, track his baggage and receive the money. Of course, it’s not that easy.
Jaume Collet-Sera, the director of other movies such as The Shallows, Orphan, and Non-Stop, brilliantly weaves a brilliant movie that hooks you right from the start. It’s not easy to place a movie within a limited space of train and to rack up the tension level. There are definite influences of Hitchcock and Agatha Christie, but The Commuter holds up on its own. At moments I was reminded of Speed too, while other moments made me feel like I was watching a sped up version of Murder on the Orient Express high on drugs!
Liam Neeson, such a great actor. He makes you feel for his character and you are rooting for him all the way to the end. He’s an everyday man who is caught up in extraordinary circumstances and as we go along with him on his journey, we too wonder what we would have done. The action sequences are amazingly handled and each punch and kick can be felt intensely.
However, what made me scream out loud in the cinema was the end train crash scene. It was so damn intense I was ducking my head, turning my head to the side and screaming out loud. The entire sequence was well crafted, I felt like I was sitting right there on the train. If only my recliner chair were in 4D and moved around, I would definitely felt like one of the train passengers.
However, one of the major highlights for me in the movie was how Michael and his son Danny shared their love for reading classic (including The Lord of the Flies, which actually serves as a foreshadow to the movie!) These classic books played an important role in their interactions and made for a unique relationship between the two.
The Commuter made for a fun night out with friends and it’s purely watchable.
3.5 out of 5