Taken 4, sorry, The Commuter, is Liam Neeson’s 2018 off the rails thriller. Former policeman Michael MacCauley (Neeson) is a family man with money troubles, and when a mystery woman offers him $1 million cash on his daily commuter train to find someone “who doesn’t belong”, he accepts.
The film’s opening sequence sees MacCauley and his family in their day to day life. The various scenes fit together nicely and it is a clever approach to display the location of the movie, New York, by Jaume Collet-Serra. Various seasons pass by and the audience becomes familiar with the family: their son’s college dream, their interests, their troubles.
As the narrative sets off in the city, viewers slowly lose their interest in Michael’s life and the dialogue lead scenes bore the action-seeking audience. It is no different to your everyday commute. Predictably, Michael is very recently unemployed, a patriarch with the view that he has been de-masculinised by losing his job. Stranger, Joanne (Vera Farmiga), plays on this fear, offering Michael money she knows he can’t refuse. Finally, the real story begins.
Neeson’s performance in The Commuter is to the same low standard as in both the Taken sequels. Unfortunately, as per his previous performances, he isn’t ground breaking. This is partly because Neeson always plays the same role; as expected, he throws people about a lot and answers the phone a lot. Nothing new for Neeson. The character of Michael doesn’t do the actor any favours either as the audience grow tired of him. Michael goes out of his way to do the least logical things and to draw attention to himself, concerning other passengers on the train and then acting confused as to why they’re all looking at him. His excuse for his odd behaviour is that he is an ex-cop; he knows protocol. It’s Neeson, he always does.
The majority of the action in the film takes place on the train as Michael searches for “Prynne”. In his search (WARNING: SPOLIERS) he benevolently saves the train’s passengers and, of course, survives being thrown from an exploding carriage. Granted, this is the type of action many audience members expect, however what they do not expect is a slow and confusing conclusion to the movie. Somehow Michael’s friend from one of the slow scenes at the start of the movie is in cahoots with whoever Joanne is working for, of course Neeson is no stranger to this sort of twist and understands the confusion perfectly. On the other hand, the audience are left one step behind the movie until concludes.
Overall, The Commuter is a film you’ve seen before. There is nothing new or ground-breaking in the narrative, and the performances feel manufactured. Whilst mildly entertaining in the action scenes, the ending provides nothing but confusion for audience. The Commuter is a train wreck.