PG-13 Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra | Lionsgate | 1h 45min
Plot: What’s it about?
The Commuter reunites Liam Neeson and Director Jaume Collet-Serra for their 4th film after Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night. I’ve enjoyed all four of their efforts despite the films being somewhat flawed. I never got into the Taken films, but I find these films much more entertaining and involving. Liam Neeson usually plays a character who gets in over his head and must stop a nearly impossible situation. One big difference with The Commuter is that he’s certainly aged and appears more vulnerable here than in previous roles. The film moves along at a steady clip and does enough to keep us involved with it as we try to figure the thing out along with the main character.
Neeson stars as Michael. He’s an insurance agent who was just let go. This couldn’t come at a worse time as his son is headed to college soon, and Michael and his wife have adjusted their finances accordingly. He meets a friend, Alex Murphy (Patrick Wilson) after work for a drink. Murphy is a cop and that’s how he knows Michael since he used to be a cop as well. As Michael takes the train home, a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) approaches him. He’s reading a book and keeping to himself, but she’s very persistent. Before long, she puts a challenge to Michael. She says it’s hypothetical, but he realizes that the challenge is in fact real. He’s to locate a passenger named “Prynne” and put a GPS tracker on him or her. She gives him more details, but is very vague. The thing is, this task would ultimately reward Michael with $100,000 a deal that at this moment is very sweet for him. After all, he did just lose his job. Michael knows a few regulars on the train, and even tries to be subtle and tell one of them about the situation and that his family is in danger. He realizes that he is being watched and they have his wife and son. It’s here that he realizes he must complete the task.
There are a few nifty twists to the story, but I’ll leave them out as to make the film more enjoyable. The film does keep us with it, even if things get a little crazy toward the end. I’ve come to expect that from an action film starring Liam Neeson.
What I did enjoy about the film is that it doesn’t make the Neeson character a superhero. As he has a few encounters with strangers on the train, we see that he’s not some invincible fighting machine that can’t be hurt. I think the film throws in the bit about him being a former cop to make it more acceptable when he can hold his own in a fight, but I can forgive such things. When the big secret of who exactly he’s looking for is revealed, it works well enough to have made the journey worthwhile. The details might not be as interesting once they’re revealed, but I didn’t mind so much. There are worse ways to spend a couple hours of your time. Check it out.
Video: How’s it look?
With a limited setting for much of the running time, there aren’t a lot in terms of visuals, but what’s presented is shown with great clarity. Details are strong, the print is clean and that’s what I’ve come to expect these days. The majority of the film is set on the train, so the image is at least consistently engaging. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.39:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The Dolby Atmos track is also engaging. Again, we are limited to a single setting for much of the film, but what we’re given is true to the source. The little details of a train ticket being punched to the heavier action sequences all come across with strong clarity to make this an engaging track. Vocals are clear as well with no flaws detected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- End of the Line – A standard behind the scenes look with the usual film clips and interviews. Check it out once and be done.
- Off the Rails – This one looks at the challenges of shooting on a train. It’s short and to the point.
The Bottom Line
While I never got into the Taken films, I am still a fan of Liam Neeson and his work with Director Jaume Collet-Serra. This is their 4th film together, and probably falls right in the middle for me, though I haven’t seen the others in some time. I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out, but rent it before considering a purchase. The plot is never too complex that it loses us, but keeps us with it.