The Commuter movie review: This Liam Neesaon-starrer plays out like a bad role-playing video game
January is most known for being Hollywood’s trash can and the only thing The Commuter succeeds in doing is solidifying this stereotype.
It’s rather wretched that the great Liam Neeson has been reduced to being the star of what can only be described as high brow trash. After showcasing a particular set of skills ten years ago in the original Taken, he continues to dole out a crappy action potboiler each year and his latest, titled The Commuter is precisely as asinine as you expect it to be.
After first putting Neeson in a plane in Non Stop, then on the city streets in Run All Night, his go to hacky filmmaker Jaume Collet Serra puts him in a train this time. Naturally Neeson once again plays an Ex Detective Police Fella who is now trying to live his life as a family man, but is forced to go back to his old and violent ways because of a sticky situation he is put in.
This time the situation in question is a woman (Vera Farmiga) on his commute train who makes him an offer he cannot refuse: there is a bag of cash in a compartment of the train, but he gets to keep the money if he identifies a person on the train.
Predictably Mr Ex Cop But Now Family Fella chooses to bite on the forbidden fruit and gets himself entangled in a mess. The plot plays out like hilarious cut scenes in bad role playing video games where our hero has to waltz from one compartment of the train to another to find this mysterious person and redeem his life.
The problem isn’t just that this is cheesy plotting, it’s that the people he interacts with in his ‘investigation’ render some unintentional laughs in attempting some smart ‘gotcha’ twists. You’ll smell the ultimate reveal ten minutes into the film – the filmmaking is so lazy there is news footage of the conspiracy literally unfolding in front of the hero’s eyes, so the fact that Neeson is supposed to be an ex cop and still can’t put two and two together is sidesplitting.
There are more holes in the plot than there are shots of Neeson’s befuddled face, and the action scenes feature 10,000 cuts a second to make it look like Neeson himself and a not a stuntman is fighting the baddies. The big conspiracy in the film is contrived to the point of idiocy with mechanics that make it seem like it was written by people conjuring a parody of earlier Neeson action films.
But alas, everything in the film is lethally serious – and even the supporting cast of Sam Neil as top cop and Patrick Wilson as Neeson’s cop pal fail to hold back on the ham. And because the budget of the film is so low, as a cherry on top you even get laugh out loud terrible special effects of the train inevitably crashing.
At this point it does seem like Collet Serra and Neeson believe in the tripe that they’ve been delivering, but it would help if they went all out and made films like Jason Statham’s Crank instead of hiding behind the garb of ‘high stakes’ and cinematic polish. This is utter muck, and if it’s muck that you want to indulge in, at least have the decency to roll completely in the mud and ask us to join in rather than simply throwing chunks of mud from a distance at our faces. January is most known for being Hollywood’s trash can and the only thing The Commuter succeeds in doing is solidifying this stereotype.
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