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Blu-ray Review: The Commuter

April 17, 2018

By John Corrado

★★ (out of 4)

After being laid off from his job as an insurance salesman, ex-cop Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) gets on the same New York commuter train that he has taken for ten years, surrounded by many of the same people.

But his commute home takes a dark and unexpected turn when he is approached by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) who poses a “hypothetical” question and offers him a hundred thousand dollars if he can identify another passenger “who doesn’t belong” on the train.

Michael accepts the offer because he needs the money, but when he comes to realize that this other passenger will be killed once he successfully identifies them, he becomes embroiled in a bizarre conspiracy that he desperately wants out of.  With the powers that be threatening to take out his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) if he doesn’t follow through on their orders, and the train rapidly barrelling towards its destination, he has increasingly limited time to figure things out.

While The Commuter starts off with hints of being an interesting psychological thriller, the tangled web of a plot quickly delves into ludicrous territory, and makes less and less sense at it goes along.  There are so many plot holes, so many leaps of logic, and so many red herrings here, that the film ultimately leaves us with at least as many questions as it does satisfying answers.  For example, if the shadowy people controlling this whole scenario are able to keep track of Michael’s every move and seemingly have eyes everywhere, then why can’t they track down the passenger in question themselves?

Directed by Jerome Collet-Serra, in his fourth collaboration with Liam Neeson after Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night, The Commuter is an example of a film that is so ridiculous and outlandishly convoluted, that it actually becomes kind of fun to watch for these very reasons.  The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense, and also suffers from being derivative of multiple other Neeson vehicles, but there is still some enjoyment to be found in watching the Irish actor scowl his way through yet another role where he has to kick ass to save his family.  This is the very definition of dumb fun, with heavy emphasis on the dumb, and if that’s all you’re looking for, then you might get a kick out of it.

The Bly-ray also includes the two short featurettes End of the Line and Off the Rails, which are mainly worth watching for an interesting behind the scenes look at how they shot the majority of the film on sound stages at Pinewood Studios in London, on an impressive life size model of a New York train that they custom built for the production.

The Commuter is a VVS Films release. It’s 104 minutes and rated 14A.

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