It’s like ‘Taken’, but y’know….on a train.
I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. Since the initial trailers for Liam Neeson’s latest slab of sweat n’ adrenaline were first released, the inevitable comparisons between this and other action movies featuring the feisty Irishman, have been flung around with abandon – and every observation, be it reasonably intelligent OR a meathead jab, have pretty much been justified.
This IS a lot like ‘Taken’. And ‘Taken 2’. And ‘Taken 3’. And ‘Non-Stop’. And ‘Unknown’. And….well, if it stars Liam Neeson, the clock is ticking and he has to desperately find someone/save someone/kill someone, then we’ve been here before. Only this time……it’s on a train.
What’s truly crazy is, it still works. ‘The Commuter’ is as cookie-cutter a blueprint as you can get for an action film about a vigilante disposing of bad guys in various – often ugly – ways. Without Neeson, it would probably be one of those lousy direct-to-cheap-DVD-bin clunkers starring Dolph Lundgren. But it’s not,’cause Neeson is present, he’s angry, the pressure is on, and……well, that’s really all we need for passable entertainment.
Oh, and there’s a train.
In ‘The Commuter’, Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an aging ex-cop turned insurance salesman who rides the same rail route every day. With a son ready to go off to college and retirement only five years away, the money crunch is on for MacCauley – probably why, when he gets an strange offer from a mysterious passenger (Vera Farmiga) to retrieve a wad of thousands from the train-car lavatory, with a promise of more riches if he can complete an anonymous act (if you’re thinking, “there’s gotta be a catch”, then you HAVE sat through this kinda stuff before), he gives it serious contemplation.
Before you know it, MacCauley is tossed into a bizarre and obviously well-executed pact that has him furiously putting together the puzzles of a jigsaw puzzle before the train can make its final stop.
The pace is good, the action is okay, the visuals are sometimes good/sometimes ridiculous, and the storyline is as outlandish as the synopsis suggests. Yet, there’s the always-dependable Neeson, the best bet going for an action vehicle. Oh, and there’s a train. And for early January……yup, that’s enough.