Sunday, April 21, 2019

Movie Review: The Commuter

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Heart pounding action
Cons: Slow start, ignores timing they established
The Bottom Line:
A killer trip home
Filled with heart pounding action
Fun mindless action

Going Home Might Just Be the Death of His Family

I actually don't remember hearing about The Commuter when it came out.  Then again, I don't often watch for thrillers or action movies in general, so that's probably why this one passed me by.  And the premise wouldn't have necessarily caught my attention either.  Yet, when a group of friends was trying to decide on a movie recently, this is the one we wound up watching, and I'm glad we did.

Through a montage, we meet Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) as he goes about his life.  We see him interacting with his wife and son (Elizabeth McGovern and Dean-Charles Chapman), getting ready for work, and interacting with his fellow passengers on his train ride into New York City where he sells life insurance.  Michael is a former cop, and he and his wife and struggling to make ends meet, especially with his son about to go to college.

Which is why he is shocked and upset when he is called into his boss's office this particular day and fired.

Still in a daze and unsure how to tell his wife, he gets on the train for the trip home.  While riding, he is approached by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) who gives him an interesting proposition.  If he will correctly identify one of his fellow passengers, he will earn $100K.  Suddenly, he finds himself in a cat and mouse game with deadly consequences for everyone he knows.  Can he identify the target?  What will happen to the target if he does?  What will happen to him, his family, and his fellow passengers if he doesn’t?

The movie starts off a bit slowly.  Yes, I get we needed the set-up, both in who Michael is and the turn his life has taken.  I'm not saying the time is wasted.  But I was very ready for the action to start by the time it did.

But once it did, hold on.  This movie becomes a twisty ride that grabs your attention and never lets go.  That's a good thing since it isn't completely logical if you think about some of the things that happen.  But as you are watching, things seem logical, and you get caught up in the tension as the seconds tick by.

Actually, that was my biggest issue with this part of the movie.  They talk about how long it takes the train to reach each stop, but the movie takes a lot longer than it should between each stop.  I was well aware of how time had slowed down, but I didn't really care because I was caught up in the action.

And there is plenty of action.  Yes, Michael has to spend time identifying potential targets and eliminating them, but they manage to work in some good action on a commuter train.  There's really only one set piece, but it is spectacular, with believable special effects.

This really is Liam Neeson's movie, and he shines.  The rest of the cast is just as sharp, but his character is the only one with enough screen time to really be developed.  As the pressure builds, he shows us how Michael is struggling to save the day against odds he is only beginning to understand.

While I might not have picked The Commuter to watch on my own, I'm glad I did.  When you are looking for an action-packed action flick, this is definitely one to consider.

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