REVIEW — “The Commuter”
Liam Neeson just can’t catch a break wherever he travels. The Commuter, the newest feature coming from Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Non-Stop) is the story of Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson). He is a daily commuter on a train that takes him from the busy city to his cozy little suburb. One day during one of his daily commutes, he gets offered a unique proposition, find a person on the train that doesn’t belong. What seems to be a seemingly simple task turns into something much bigger than Michael. Crazy obstacles are always blocking him, causing his mission to go awry every which way. Then Michael starts to get a hold of the fact that he is part of a criminal conspiracy much bigger than him.
To be honest, I am not a big fan of Jaume Collet-Serra. I think his films are usually lifeless and exist in this gaudy CGI universe that takes away from the experience totally. However, I gotta say I am a big fan of The Commuter. It’s not an Oscar film in any regard but folks it’s just plain fun. The direction that Collet-Serra brings to the flick is a lot more full of life. Collet-Serra uses a lot of fake environments and definitely sticks to a Michael Bay-esque formula of hyper-realized style in a lot of the scenes. These are things that I have noticed Collet-Serra falls back on a lot. In this turn, he matures a bit, there is for sure a lot of shotty direction but there are very cool scenes and shots sprinkled throughout the film. It’s also worth mentioning that he directs some admittedly bad-ass action scenes. Look out for a guitar.
The script in this film is its true star. The Commuter was a lot more compelling and tense than I expected, and that credit goes to the screenplay. The unraveling of the events is what makes the story. The layers that this film brings adds an exciting mystery that lasts from start to finish. Sure the dialogue isn’t top notch but the suspense of it all distracts you from that. The acting from everyone is pretty good, nobody is exceptional by any means. Neeson is cool as all get out, but what’s new? The ensemble does a good job of making each individual on the train stand out. Not every character on this train is fleshed out to the fullest, but the acting done by rest of the cast makes the background guys a lot more serviceable. The cinematography is very clunky in a lot of scenes as well. I appreciate a lot of the experiments with the camera but it can get really jarring and old in a couple scenes.
Overall, I did enjoy The Commuter. There are a lot of technical issues that really stop this movie from realizing it’s full potential, but it’s still a load of fun. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a cheesy blockbuster with a nice hint of intelligence. 3/5