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The Commuter
2/5
dir Jaume Collet-Serra
scr Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi
prd Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona
with Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, Andy Nyman, Jonathan Banks, Colin McFarlane, Florence Pugh, Ella-Rae Smith, Roland Moller, Shazad Latif
release US 12.Jan.18. UK 19.Jan.18
18/US StudioCanal 1h44
The Commuter
Indecent proposal: Farmiga and Neeson

wilson neill mcgovern
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Commuter Concocted simply to be action-packed, this mind-achingly preposterous thriller never manages to develop any tension, thrills or drama. Those are impossible things to generate without a coherent story and characters. A vague whiff of mystery just about holds the interest, and might be enough to entertain audiences in search of dumb escapism. But this film transcends stupid.

After 10 years commuting into Manhattan as an insurance salesman, Michael (Neeson) is suddenly sacked. He has a drink with his pal Murphy (Wilson), who was his partner when he was a cop, then he boards the train, where he is accosted by the chatty Joanna (Farmiga). She offers him the cash he needs for his son's college tuition if he will track down someone who "doesn't belong on the train". Since he travels this route every day, he knows several passengers, but he quickly begins to realise something is badly amiss here.

It all ties into a suicide that was notably reported on a TV screen and a witness who has inexplicably boarded the train with something the pathologically omniscient baddies desperately want to get their hands on. The more you try to understand this, and the more you try to work out why anyone on-screen does what he or she does, the more laughably nonsensical the film becomes. And everything builds to a series of mind-bogglingly improbable action sequences, many of which involve super-human physicality from Neeson.

There's clearly only one reason Neeson makes these kinds of movies, but at least he doesn't sleepwalk through them. He gives every scene his full attention, growling the silly dialog as if it's darkly meaningful and offering full focus to each character around him. (The entire supporting cast is just as committed.) Even when talking on a phone, which he does a lot, he's so good that we want to believe this is actually happening to him. But everything around him reminds us that it's just a dumb movie.

Hilariously, director Collet-Serra takes an over-serious approach to everything that happens, cranking up the intensity long after the audience has lost interest in whatever plot there might have been. So the audience hangs on as the movie rumbles full-pelt like, yes, a runaway train. Aside from some seriously dodgy effects sequences, the film is fairly slick. But it's so pointless, without a single memorable set-piece, character or story point, that it's difficult to remember anything about the movie after it ends.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 8.Dec.17

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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