Now, I get what they’re going for. This is a Liam Neeson-led action thriller set entirely on a train, so they’ve twisted the classic saying into a train pun of sorts, but it comes across as nothing more than lazy poster design. Fifty Shades Freed gives me more faith just based on its poster than The Commuter did with its. Thankfully, however, the infuriating lack of creativity ends there, for director Jaume Collet-Serra’s fourth collaboration with Neeson is just as much fun as you could possibly hope for, even if it is more of the same.
It’s a simplistic, if not slightly idiotic thriller that’s the perfect bit of escapism for a rainy afternoon. You’re not going to leave The Commuter drenched in sweat from all the tension, nor in love with the beauty and passion put into the craftsmanship, but as a mindless fluff piece that sees Liam Neeson beating a dude with a guitar, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had. This is the perfect gateway to two hours of blissful thinking, where you can kick your feet up, sit back and relax as you’re taken on a ridiculous and rambunctious adventure you barely need to give a second thought.
Characterization is a must. Movies need it. This one has it. But you don’t go into films like The Commuter looking for deep social commentaries. It’s the mindless fun that audiences want here, so once this film gets into it, it really delivers. The first half is taut, thrilling and unpredictable, moving graciously through its story without allowing time for breaks. Given the small crowd, you really get a grip on who’s who, and I found myself working alongside Neeson’s character, trying to figure out who it is exactly that we’re after. Neeson plays himself, but he plays him effortlessly, matched by a perfectly sinister and alluding performance from Vera Farmiga.
I went into The Commuter with reasonably low expectations, and not just because of how frustratingly bad that film’s tagline is (which, thankfully, doesn’t get said in the actual movie like so many other taglines do), but I came out with a feeling of delight. The Commuter is mostly forgettable, strangely edited and unapologetically over the top, but at the end of the day, it’s fun and I enjoyed myself, and that’s all you really need with films like this.
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