Plot: Michael (Liam Neeson) is an insurance salesman with a good life, as he is married, has a son he loves, and is devoted to his family. For the past decade, he has lived pretty much the same daily routine over and over, including extensive rides on the public train system. He isn’t alone in this routine however, as he has gotten to recognize and strike up banter with countless other regulars on the train. But his routine is about to change, when he is let go from his position and no longer needs to ride the train, since he won’t have a job to commute to. This is devastating news, as he is mortgaged to the hilt and is about to send his son to college, so losing his income will likely have a terrible, profound impact on his family’s lives. On his last train ride, he is approached by a woman who presents a hypothetical situation in which Michael simply needs to find someone on the train who doesn’t belong, then collect a sizable amount of cash. But when it turns out the situation is not so hypothetical, he is torn between his desperate situation and the moral implications of carrying out the mysterious task.
Entertainment Value: Liam Nesson is back in another bad ass, old dude role and this time, he’s on a train and trapped in a complicated situation. The narrative here is overly messy and tries to force in too many twists, turns, and shifts, but there’s a certain charm here, I think. The constant red herrings, sudden revelations, and dialing up of the stakes ensures the pace is breakneck once the narrative starts to roll, so it might be dumb, but it never dull. I especially loved how Neeson’s character would consistently do suspicious and even openly dangerous things in plain view of his fellow passengers, who would at first turn against him, but then instantly forgive and forget, only to have the cycle repeat on a regular basis. Obviously if you’re interested in a story that makes sense, this kind of stuff doesn’t delight you, but I found it to be humorous and had fun with the sillier aspects of the narrative. Neeson is great at being the old guy with a shocking level of skills, so he is fun to watch here. The rest of the ensemble is fine as well, but no one else really stands out. I think your interest in The Commuter will come down to your feelings about Liam Neeson in these world beater roles, as it is a brisk, fun movie, but makes no sense whatsoever. I had fun with this one, but if you can’t suspend your disbelief in epic fashion, you might not have the same reaction.
No nakedness. This train barrels out of the gate and rarely slows down, so no time for love on this commute. The movie has a good amount of violence and by turn, has some bloodshed involved. Neeson gets into some scrapes over the course of the ride, so he has some cuts and abrasions, nothing extreme though. This one also has some gun shots, but again, never graphic stuff. Most of the blood is aftermath stuff, like splashes of blood on clothes or such. The action isn’t non stop, but The Commuter keeps tensions high and has a number of more kinetic sequences. Of course Neeson brawls at times, guns are brought in, a near death experience unfolds under the train, and a wild finale leads to some big, CGI driven explosiveness. I found the dialogue to be passable, but not much as far as one liners or big, wild exchanges. I did appreciate how the movie included a lot of little details about the supporting ensemble, as that kept the other key passengers from being faceless mobs. On the craziness scale, this one throws all common sense out the window and really asks you to switch off your brain. The constant back & forth of how Neeson is treated, huge logic gaps, and a drive to deliver the narrative, regardless of if it makes sense, earns this one a few points.
Overall Insanity: 3/10