The Commuter Review
At this point, Liam Neeson has had an extensive career. He wowed us in such films as "Schindler's List," which is an experience I don't think I'll ever forget. He was great in such films as "Les Miserables," "Seraphim's Falls," "Star Wars: Episode One," "Kinsey," "Husbands and Wives," "Rob Roy" and "The Grey." He made us laugh in "Anchorman 2" and "The LEGO Batman Movie." He made a meaningful cameo in "Gangs of New York" and he made quite the mentor in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies, "Kingdom of Heaven" and "Chronicles of Narnia." He was even pretty good in the wacky movies "Darkman" and "The A-Team." He seems like a smart enough guy, so I'v always wondered why in his late career he started making a name for himself in making the same action movie year after year.
Make no mistake about it, whether you have been to the movie theater to see "The Commuter" yet, let me just tell you, you've seen "The Commuter." Whether you realize it or not, you have. I promise you. If you've seen any of the "Taken" movies, you've seen "The Commuter." If you saw "Non-Stop," you've seen "The Commuter." If you've saw "Unknown," you've seen "The Commuter." How about "Run All Night?" Yep, you've seen "The Commuter." I don't see how anyone in their right minds could argue that any of these movies are different from the other, because their not.
Liam Neeson is basically playing the same man in each of those movies listed above, and its no different in "The Commuter." In each of these movies, Liam Neeson plays an every day Joe Schmoe who is just trying to get home or is just trying to live a normal life, but gets pulled into an extraordinary situation, and must punch his way out of it. It is revealed to the audience that Neeson was secretly someone else, an invulnerable superhero if you will before becoming a Joe Schmoe. Why? So that the movie can explain why he's able to kick the bad guy's asses when the movie turns into action mode. Each of these films proceeds to Neeson into an abysmal "mystery" until he is able to figure out why he found himself in the said situation.
"The Commuter" is just like those movies, except its on a train! Whoopie!
If it's true that Neeson is planning to retire from action films after this, then I would gladly welcome it. I hope he starts making meaningful films again and not just these savage retreads just for the sake of monetary profit. He talks the same, he acts the same, and heck, he even fights the same in each of these movies, and "The Commuter" is no different. Heck, I think Neeson wears the same wardrobe from film to film, but don't quote me on that. It's the same movie wearing a different skin every year.
Sure, "The Commuter" wants you to think that Neeson was put into a strange situation by Vera Farmiga to explore sociology and how the mind works. But that's just pretty window dressing. The movie doesn't explain human behavior or human nature in any significant way. It's just an excuse to get Neeson into action mode. I am using the actors names instead of character names specifically because these actors aren't playing characters, they might as well be cardboard cut-outs, they only serve Neeson to get from point A to point B. Patrick Wilson, Sam Neil and Jonathon Banks all appear, but not with meaningful roles, just devices used to help Neeson tell some sort of a story, even if that story is half-assed at best.
What looks like a character study with an action beat about what someone will do for $100,000 only becomes a typical Neeson action movie. When we discuss Neeson's work in the future, and we will I am sure of it. His obsession with making the same movie over and over again will be a piece of his greater career that film scholars won't mind glossing over.
FINAL GRADE: D