By midlandsmovies, May 5 2018 02:05PM
The Commuter (2018) Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
Liam Neeson never seemed like a likely action hero when his imposing frame appeared in the rather fantastic but ultimately silly revenge flick Taken. Instead of an excellent one-off, the actor has attempted to recapture that glory on multiple occasions (including 2 Taken sequels) and each one worse than the last. And most with Commuter director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night).
Here, he plays an ex-cop (yes, really) who has now lost his job at a high flying banking corporation which leaves him unemployed and with large debts. Not wanting to explain the circumstances to his family, he meets Vera Farmiga on his regular train ride who tasks him with finding a person in the carriages on the promise of a large amount of cash.
Along with Farmiga, Patrick Wilson appears as an old cop pal and Sam Neill is a high ranking police captain but don’t let these quality actors lull you into a false sense of security. They all barely appear in the film and are given nothing to work with when they do show up.
With both the premise (and Farmiga) borrowed from Source Code (where she also gave a mission to a man to find someone on a train), the film has a solid 25 minutes of fun action in the middle when it picks up pace. However, it is bookended by large swatches of utter drivel with poor dialogue and drama. It also contains some truly horrific CGI, especially the shots from outside the train, whilst the virtual dolly shots are abysmal.
It’s of course absolute shlock but that middle segment is entertaining to a point. It also has a very similar premise to Neeson's other transit flick Non-Stop with the plane replaced by a locomotive here. Although he’s on the phone a lot on this one, at least he’s not texting! Is that better? Yes, but it’s hardly an endorsement.
A selection of random, and dull as dishwater, fisticuff and train jumping plot points culminate in a ludicrous Speed-like finale with a runaway train. And although the action has lost all believability at this point, with the cartoon-level computer generated loco steaming ahead, it was topped by an “I’m Spartacus” sequence that had me howling with laughter.
But alas, that one giant guffaw aside, any positives are small and this high concept but low budget actioner is not one you want to be travelling on for long.
Midlands Movies Mike