Friday, 20 July 2018

The Commuter ★★☆☆☆

‘The Commuter’ is the latest film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (‘House of Wax’, ‘The Shallows’). Liam Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an insurance salesman with many financial ties who goes to his job one day only to discover that ten years of loyalty and hard work have still resulted in him being dismissed. Worried about his son’s college fees he’s initially unable to tell his wife, Karen (Elizabeth McGovern) about it, but promises himself he’ll discuss it when he gets home.

This never happens though as, on board his regular commuter train, MacCauley is approached by a mysterious woman who poses a hypothetical question to him - asking him to find a person on the train and receive $100k in cash. There’s only one snag though, which is that he won’t know what happens to the stranger once they are found. MacCauley initially refuses but finds himself trapped in the scenario anyway, having to use his ex-cop knowledge in a race against time.

A lot of people say that if you’ve seen one Liam Neeson film then you’ve seen them all, and sadly in the case of ‘The Commuter’ then this holds quite true. It’s a shame because I really do think that Neeson can be a great actor, but he just takes on films that don’t use his potential and rehash the same type of story over and over again. The start of the film was actually quite different (in a good way) and was well done, but about halfway through it really started to turn. Once the climax started to play out it went downhill very fast, feeling more like a straight to DVD B movie than a film with such a well-known actor as the lead.

I think the root of the problem is that the story, while interesting, is quite cliché, and this makes certain plot twists fairly obvious. The filming style confused me as it really varied in quality, though leaned more towards the amateur side. Some scenes, such as when MacCauley gets on the train ride home were done quite well and really induced anxiety in the viewer, whereas other scenes looked like they’d been created by that college student that’s just discovered depth of field and the trial version of Adobe Premier. The editing wasn’t great either, making some cuts feel rushed and other parts look unrealistic.

One part I particularly liked was the introduction,, which is where I feel most of the effort had gone into. It was filmed well, with great acting and good use of character development and backstory (something that is often vitally missing from these sorts of films). The fight scenes were also choreographed well, although were easily forgotten amidst some more extreme scenes towards the end that I won’t spoil for you but appeared to have been conjured up by Michael Bay.

Despite only being 1hr 45mins long, once the halfway point was hit the film really started to drag. It was ambitious and probably a good idea to begin with, however it was overdone so much that unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of a trainwreck.

Hannah Read

The Commuter at CeX

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