Review: The Commuter

Infamous Taken star Liam Neeson steps effortlessly into a familiar role of distressed father, come hero of the hour, in real time film The Commuter.

The intense and gripping thriller is set almost entirely on a rush hour train, but is far from a boring ride home; packed with huge explosions, fight scenes, crashes and murder.

The beginning of the film illustrates that Michael MacCauley’s (Liam Neeson) daily routine is nothing short of monotonous. It has involved the same commute to and from work, on the same train, with the same people, for the last ten years.

After being laid off from his job as an insurance salesman, just months before his retirement; Michael’s biggest problems include providing for his family, and how he’s going to tell his wife, Karen (Elizabeth McGovern), that he no longer has a job.  

That is until a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga), sits down opposite him on the train home, and makes him a cryptic proposal that he cannot refuse.

She offers him a huge and much needed cash reward, which can be found hidden in the train’s bathroom, in exchange for his co-operation in finding a passenger, carrying a bag containing something stolen. He doesn’t know who he’s looking for, why he’s looking for them, what they’ve stolen and what’s going to happen to them once they’ve been identified, but the money is too good to pass up.

His usual dull commute becomes a race against time, as the fate of his family and the people on board, lies in his ability as an ex-police officer to crack the case.

With events unfolding in real time and constant calls from Joanna, reminding him he’s running out of time, it’s impossible to not feel as though you’re the frantic protagonist yourself, trying to make sense of the madness you’ve been thrown into in this film.

The film’s cinematography, particularly in the fight scenes is impressive. The 360-degree shots immerse the viewer up close in all the ongoing action. The back and forth pacing through the narrow, sweaty-body-filled aisles and the shifty looks from other passengers creates frustration for both Michael and the viewer, as we all attempt to work out ‘who done it’ with minimal clues.

Michael’s deductions and sheer perceptiveness is comparable to that of Sherlock’s in the BBC’s contemporary version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories. The way Michael cleverly narrows down his list of suspects is fascinating to watch. The viewer has the same limited knowledge of what to be searching for as him, making the situation even more intense, yet all the more impressive as Michael pieces the smallest bits of evidence together.

Neeson is no stranger to starring in action films, nor is this his first time working with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra. This is the fourth film the pair have worked on together following Unknown, Nonstop and Run All Night and they are currently working on a fifth.

The Commuter makes for a unique and engaging watch, and is a ride you won’t want to miss.