Let’s just get this out of the way first: “The Commuter” is dumb.
It’s a dumb, stupid movie that makes little to no sense with a story that’s a mess.
Is it fun? Sure.
This is brought to us by director Jaume Collet-Serra, who has delivered a series of equally silly action blunders starring Liam Neeson, including “Unknown,” “Non-Stop” and “Run All Night.” And just like the films that preceded it, “The Commuter” is a convoluted mess, lacking any semblance of a well-thought-out plot.
After 10 years of riding the train almost every day to work, Michael MacCauley (Neeson) is asked to complete a simple task by a mysterious woman played by Vera Farmiga (“The Conjuring 2”). For $100,000 — something he desperately needs — Michael just needs to find someone: a single person who doesn’t belong on the train. However, this small venture turns out to be far more sinister as time begins to quickly run out and Michael finds his family in danger.
“The Commuter” really is, at its core, “Non-Stop” but on a train. The plots are far too similar.
Neeson gets approached by a stranger to accomplish a task, and things quickly begin to spiral out of control as he balances doing the right thing while trying to save something in his life. There’s even the classic “everybody suspects the main character is the bad guy” cliché we’ve seen run rampant in this subgenre.
In the interest of fairness, “The Commuter” is far more charming than “Non-Stop.” The main character as well as some of the others on the train are much more human and relatable.
Michael is infinitely more likable than Bill Marks from “Non-Stop.” This is largely due to the cinematic train-wreck that is the opening scene. While from an editing perspective, it’s an unintuitive mess, it does help the audience relate with his character. It offers glimpses into the life he leads, his personal struggles, his family dynamics and his endearing personality.
That’s not to say the archetypes of this genre still aren’t present.
The writers couldn’t resist throwing in the rich jerk, the one who refuses to cooperate with authority, or the attendant who hates everyone they serve. And is it just me, or is the “Liam Neeson-desperately-trying-to-save-his-family” routine getting a bit tired?
The major issue I have with film is that the villain’s plan is unbelievably convoluted. It makes no sense.
Why, with their infinite resources, personnel, and leverage on the police force, would the bad guys resort to such a risky solution to find one individual? There had to have been a better way to accomplish their goal.
However, with all this negativity, I must admit, “The Commuter” can really be enjoyable at times. The film is just dumb fun.
There are some great action set pieces and creative ideas. The identity of the mystery passenger is hidden actually quite cleverly and the film had me constantly guessing the entire runtime.
Sure, “The Commuter” is just mediocre. It’s eerily similar to “Non-Stop” and it’s a bit too convoluted for its own good. But the film isn’t terrible and I’ll admit that sometimes it brought a smile to my face. It’s fine and nothing special.