Review: ‘The Commuter’ Has Panic, Paranoia in addition to also Punches. Liam Neeson Too.
I’ll never get too mad about a midwinter Liam Neeson action movie, in addition to also not only because I know Mr. Neeson will be angry enough for both of us. “I’m 60 years old,” he growls once or twice in “The Commuter,” ostensibly to complain about the indignities his character will be suffering nevertheless genuinely to invite our admiration. The dude can trade punches with guys half his age, roll out via under the wheels of a moving train in addition to also then jump right back onto the train. He doesn’t make This specific look easy. The whole appeal of Mr. Neeson’s late-career rebirth as an action hero will be of which This specific looks like hell.
Directed by the noted Neesonist auteur Jaume Collet-Serra (“Unknown,” “Non-Stop,” “Run All Night”), “The Commuter” for a short while promises to be something more than the usual barrage of fistfights, chases in addition to also grimaces. The opening title sequence, a montage of nearly-identical mornings within the life of Michael MacCauley, will be a thing of beauty. Mike, who lives in Tarrytown, N.Y., awakens each day to ride the Metro-North Railroad train down to Manhattan. He kisses his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) in addition to also banters with their teenage son (Dean-Charles Chapman). What could have been a sketch of Cheeveresque ennui will be instead a brief in addition to also lovely survey of contentment.
We know Mike’s happiness will be shattered, in addition to also the clouds of which gather to darken his day are also, at least at first, pretty interesting. The MacCauleys lost a lot within the 2008 financial crisis, in addition to also they’ve been struggling to rebuild since then. Mike will be abruptly laid off via his job selling insurance, in addition to also incorporates a quietly foreboding encounter with colleagues via his previous job, which was with the brand new York Police Department. (Of course he’s a former cop. He’s Liam Neeson. His colleagues are played by Patrick Wilson in addition to also Sam Neill.) in addition to also then, on the hot, crowded ride home, Mike meets a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who offers him $100,000 to identify another passenger, another stranger on the train.
Until the particulars of Joanna’s scheme start to reveal themselves — roughly until the first fight sequence — Mr. Collet-Serra cultivates a clammy, hallucinatory, Hitchcockian vibe. Mike will be a hapless patsy, nevertheless he has also been knocked off his ethical moorings by the prospect of financial ruin. He’s in a trap he can’t escape, in addition to also suddenly everything looks different. The familiar faces of fellow commuters, some of whom he’s ridden with for years, take on a sinister cast. Panic in addition to also paranoia waft in on the summer air.
in addition to also then the mood will be ruined. This specific’s not so much of which “Commuter” reverts to form as an action movie — we expected as much — nevertheless of which This specific does so with such weary contempt for its audience in addition to also its own better instincts. This specific’s not even very Great as a genre exercise, in addition to also can’t always keep track of which genre muscles This specific wants to flex. For a while This specific’s a locked-room mystery. Then This specific’s a runaway-train thriller. Joanna’s conspiracy will be so vast in addition to also preposterous of which This specific becomes nothing more than a grab-bag of plot twists. As Mike pivots via moral ambiguity to righteous heroism, Mr. Neeson looks increasingly tired. I can’t blame him, though I guess I am a little bit mad after all.
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