Sunday, January 14, 2018

Movie Review: The Commuter

Every so often, Liam Neeson signs up for another silly action movie. I usually don't take the time to see these films but managed to catch the most recent installment. The film is a by-the-books action movie that takes the short route on the action with only a few scenes of combat or train mayhem. I have only been to New York City a few times but from what I've heard, the logistics of the train are not the actual case for the city's line. All of these issues aside, this January release has some decent moments and a story that can keep a viewer mildly entertained for two hours. Michael MacCauley (Neeson) makes his daily commute on this mysterious train as he challenges his son each day to read works of classic fiction and argues or laughs with his wife. He sells life insurance for a big company but they lay him off just as he is trying to budget for his son's college tuition. 

Before he catches the train, Michael stops by the bar to chat with his old cop partner Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson) to vent about his unemployment and Murphy has some issues with his fellow officers, especially Captain Hawthorne (Sam Neill). MacCauley is in desperate need of a new source of income so when a mysterious stranger Joanna (Vera Farmiga) offers him a total of one hundred thousand dollars, twenty-five up front and the rest once he completes a simple task. Joanna somehow knows that MacCauley is a cop and a regular train rider so she uses his current situation to force him into her employment. He needs to figure out who is on the train and doesn't regularly ride it. MacCauley finds the first bit of cash but he wants to just get off the train until a young woman gives him a warning in the form of his wife's wedding ring. 

MacCauley tries to borrow another regular passenger's phone and tries to call his wife and the police. Joanna punishes MacCauley by killing fellow passenger Walt (Jonathan Banks). MacCauley begins to cooperate with Joanna's demands and searches through the train cars for passengers getting off at a particular stop. He narrows it down to a few but when he confronts one of them, he is attacked and has to fight the man off. He continues his hunt but he finds out that the man he fought with was an FBI agent. The train is stopped and the police search the line but MacCauley crouches in a compartment. As the train starts up again, he has to crawl beneath it, roll between the wheels and jump back on the train. He decides to cut off all the air conditioning so he can get the remaining passengers into one car. 

He confronts each of them and figures out who the right person. Murphy had informed him that the person that he is looking for witnessed a crime that was mentioned briefly on a background news segment. Joanna orders Michael to kill the witness but he refuses so somehow the train is set at an increased speed and the driver is killed. Working with Conductor Sam (Colin McFarlane), Michael separates the cars. Conductor Sam sacrifices himself but this is never really mentioned again. McCauley stages a hostage situation and Murphy enters to talk him down until he reveals that he is the crooked cop. Michael manages to switch a sniper marker while fighting with Alex and the snipers kill Murphy. The witness clears McCauley's name a little too easily. 

The Commuter is nothing special, just very generic action movie that may turn a profit because Liam Neeson has been able to draw a crowd. I will probably skip the next iteration of these action movies but I'm a sucker for silly January genre fare so I can't make any promises. I was revisiting the Taken films and have found them a bit silly and wonder how they spawned multiple sequels and a following. January is an interesting month because mixed in with these throwaway releases are award-winning films that are just getting a wide release. It makes for a medium run at the movies for the next few weeks with really good stuff alongside mindless fun. 

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