Liam Neeson once again makes the gradual – and inevitable – transition from everyman to action man in his fourth collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Sera (Non-Stop).
He’s a 60-year-old ex-cop turned insurance guy, who makes the long daily train commute from the ‘burbs to NYC. After learning he’s been fired, his day gets a whole lot worse when he receives a cryptic offer from a mystery woman (Vera Farmiga) on the trip home – find a specific traveller who doesn’t belong on the train, in exchange for $100K.
With no job, two mortgages and a kid bound for college, naturally he agrees. But after breaking the rules of the deal, his family is threatened and he’s plunged into a convoluted conspiracy orchestrated by the usual omnipresent “they”.
The Hitchcock allusions – The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train – aren’t exactly subtle, and there’s even a corny reverse zoom to ram the point home. A blatantly obvious clue is dropped early, red herrings abound as to the identity of the mystery passenger, and there are plot holes you could drive a locomotive through. Then things go completely off the rails and the film turns into a Die Hard clone.
Neeson can play this kind of role in his sleep now, but The Commuter is no snoozefest. It’s paced like an out of control express, and despite being wildly implausible, it’s highly enjoyable – in a guilty pleasure kind of way.
In cinemas: January 18, 2018
Starring: Liam Neeson, Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra