Release Date: January 12, 2018
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi
Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, Killian Scott, Shazad Latif, Andy Nyman, Clara Lago, Roland Moller, Florence Pugh, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ella-Rae Smith, Nila Aalia, Colin McFarlane, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Adam Nagaitis, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Damson Idris, Andy Lucas, Zaak Conway, Ben Caplan, Letitia Wright, Simon Hibbs, Nathan Wiley, Jamie Beamish, Ben Nathan, David Alwyn, John Alastair, Edward Bluemel Aoiffe Hinds
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes
Production Company: Ombra Films, StudioCanal, The Picture Company, Lionsgate
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Country: UK, USA
Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson have teamed up repeatedly, and for my taste, I'm in love with the pairing of the two. With films like Run All Night, Non-Stop, and Unknown; I wouldn't be telling the truth if I didn't get excited learning about a project they'd be working on, but for some reason, I wasn't through the roof for this attempt at The Commuter.
Neeson plays a life insurance salesman that’s responsible, loves his family, and for the most part, always tries to make the smart decision. Though as life hits us all at random moments, his life flips on him, and he’s put in a desperate situation. Then, out of nowhere, the beautiful Vera Farmiga pops up with a challenge for Neeson, and not knowing what he’s truly in for makes the mistake of accepting her offer that could possibly ruin his life.
The set up for the film is spectacular. It spends times showing Neeson as a family man or just everyday man going to work that many can relate to. The editing used in those moment highlights those instances where sometimes in life we can remember the smallest details on a Tuesday, but then forget what came a moment before or after. It's amazing how the brain works and Collet-Serra put that on screen. Even when Neeson hops on the train, the initial set up towards the riddle he must solve seems like you are in for a fun ride, but after a while, the plot starts to get hard to work through than finding a needle in a haystack.
There are too many unknown scenarios and unanswered questions about the plot to make sense. It seems impossible for things to play out the way the film suggests they should with too many coincidences happening at perfect moments for it all to make sense. Everything turns into a convoluted mess that's overcomplicated to seem edgy and groundbreaking. I began to shake my head in frustration trying to put all the pieces together and soon learned that some of those pieces never made it onto the train. It was so unnecessary, and I wondered what happened to the tight scripts Collet-Serra usually works with. Even the fight scenes were over the top. While they were choreographed with great precision and computerized camera work, seeing characters beat the hell out of each other with little damage at times felt like a street fighter video game. I knew at some parts that the action life bar would populate over their heads to let the audience know how much life support they had left. It was all too much.
Fortunately, as they started to go downhill with me creating a huge disdain for it, it leveled out towards the end; an ending that for the most part will suffice. A little of it was still over the top with stunts the Incredible Hulk could barely pull off, but they were short-lived and turned into a normal outcome giving the situation the characters were in. Jaume Collet-Serra is a fine director, whose films I look forward to, but I can honestly say this is the absolute worst he’s ever done, and I hope he never misses the mark as he did here.