Being a huge fan of film’s “Non-Stop” & “Unknown” as well as two of the “Taken” series of screenplay’s, the billing & the trailer for this latest Liam Neeson action come suspense thriller promised plenty. But, given “The Commuter” had much to live up to, did this train themed motion picture stick to its expectation timetable or did it get caught on the red signal of disappointment?
If we are brutally honest, when it comes to films, especially in the cinema, while we don’t necessarily swerve action screenplays, it is far from our favoured genre, albeit they are much more palatable than animation motion pictures which we do avoid like the plague. That said, we are quite picky if & when choosing an action screening in the cinema, elements of espionage along with a complex plot attractive and our experience tends to lean towards those starring Liam Neeson, who as an actor, we rate. Indeed, one of our all-time favourite action films is “Non-Stop”, partly because we are fascinated by air travel but moreover that, despite having seen it scores of times (plenty of occasions while sitting in an airport departure lounge) we never get bored of it, co-star Julianne Moore also returning a prolific performance. However, we also credit Neeson with his “Taken” series of screenplays (well excepting the third which we found a little lame) and very much a sleeper, “Unknown” also sitting proud in our DVD collection. So, given this and the boasting that “The Commuter” received both on the billboards & in the trailer, we had high expectation of it scoring similarly to its “Non-Stop” nemesis and, to be honest the first few frames of this otherwise flawed film, were very promising, the premise of this picture perhaps not quite so, the plot basically being that Neeson’s character, Michael MaCauley, an ex-cop turned insurance salesman living in the leafy suburbs of New York, takes the same commuter train in & out of the city every day, often meeting the same people on his trudge of a journey. However, this day is set to be different, as on arriving at work, he is summoned to his boss’s office and is effectively laid off, after which follows a sequence of misfortunes befalling him upon drowning his sorrows in a favoured police force bar where he meets some old colleagues. Then, when eventually boarding his commuter train, he sits opposite this woman who poses THE most bizarre proposal offering a reward of a total of $100,000 which, despite the mysterious nature of the proposition, MaCauley agrees to and so ensues a spiral of atypical “Taken” style situations varying in violence & suspense.
Now when we saw this in the cinema last month (this review is being penned both with considered reflection some five weeks hence), as indicated above, the first scene was both engaging at cleverly constructed, thus boding well for this movie, indeed the storyline was still working for us through the firing and then the subsequent deterioration in MaCauley’s mood & fortunes, meaning that, for us at this point, this manic motion picture still had some sort of credibility. But, when faced with both the implausible proposal along with the confusing twist towards the end which, unlike that in “Non-Stop”, far from sufficiently explained itself, this along with the gratuitous & misplaced violence, left us wondering just what it was all about. Furthermore, a friend’s comment following our cinema screening pretty much summed it up when he said, “…so what could possibly happen in this? All the seats are taken? There is a signal failure? Or the train derail’s?…”, all intended as tongue in cheek comments, while with the latter, he was right on the button, as that’s exactly what happens and brings this suspect screenplay to an erupting end. Therefore, you can probably gather from our downbeat demeanour that we weren’t overly impressed by “The Commuter”, rather disappointed that our elevated expectations from both the billboards and the trailer fell short. And you would be right in thinking this, as when we walked out of the cinema, that’s exactly what we felt, perhaps not helped by our perception that, after nearly a three year wait for a film to compliment the colossal in our opinion, “Non-Stop”, had arrived, we were left on the proverbial screenplay station waiting for that train to pull in, rather the announcement kept saying “…your service is indeterminately delayed…”. However, like “Taken 3”, which we were left feeling deflated with when compared to the previous two, yet after a sufficient pause & reflection, ended up adding it to our DVD collection anyway, in writing this review after a similar mass of moments in thinking time, feel the same about this latest lame Liam duck of a flawed film, as for all of its faults, we are sure be unable to resist that disc purchase & play when that proverbial train comes. (DISCO MATT)