By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra have teamed up once again to deliver “The Commuter,” a thriller that is sure to help melt away the mid-winter blues.
The film begins with a beautifully shot prologue showing the daily routine of 60-year-old insurance salesman Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson). Neeson is only five years from retirement and is struggling to figure out how to pay for his son’s (Dean-Charles Chapman) upcoming college education. His day goes from bad to worse when his boss tells him he is being laid off and he is unceremoniously ejected from the building. Michael can’t bring himself to tell his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) the news and instead drowns his sorrows at a bar in the city.
Michael barely makes the crowded train home and is soon joined by a strange woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who proposes what she dubs an “experiment” to Michael: “What if I asked you to do something that could profoundly affect an individual on this train?”
She elaborates that someone on the train “doesn’t belong” and that Michael can earn $100,000 by finding this person, known only to carry a bag containing stolen goods and to go by the pseudonym “Prynne.” If he succeeds in finding and tagging Prynne with a GPS tracker, he can keep the money and he won’t know the consequences of his actions. If he fails to locate Prynne or refuses to try, his family will die.
Just as quickly as she appeared, Joanna is gone and we are left just as dumbfounded as Michael at what just happened. What follows is a series of heart-pounding fight scenes, not-so-gentle reminders that Joanna has eyes and ears everywhere and the requisite plot twists that have become the formula of a Liam Neeson film.
While I’m never one to turn down a Liam Neeson punch-throwing, bad-guy-wrecking thriller, Joanna’s mysterious conspiracy that is the center of this film grows ever larger as the movie hurtles down the track, with plot twists around every bend and a conspiracy that grows in absurdity faster than the runaway train Michael is riding.
If you don’t think too hard about the finer plot points, “The Commuter” is an enjoyable thriller that will allow you to check out from reality for a while and watch Neeson do what he does best – exchange punches with and hold his own against men half his age and fight for his family using his very particular set of skills.
“The Commuter” rolls into theaters this Friday.