The Commuter


This is a full action-packed thriller movie enacted almost completely on a train in New York city which is headed to a faraway suburb. All the action happens on the train, and Liam Neeson is at his best trying to figure out the mystery, a role for which he is one of the best actors available. He has a heavy set, thinking face and you do not expect a fast movement from him. But he delivers some knock-out punches on the train and is also attacked vigorously by much younger men.

For an ordinary salesman on his regular commute home, and that too for a guy who has just lost his job with a mortgage to pay and family to cater to, it is all too much. One can witness the turmoil in his face when some lady offers him USD 25,000 for a seemingly innocuous job on the train. But his acceptance of that money puts him (and a number of his fellow passengers) at great peril; it also leads to the murder of a few folks on the train.

We have a saying – one bad thing leads to the next one, the same leg gets hit twice, etc., That’s what happens to our hero on the train after his sordid office experience that particular day when he got fired from his job, replaced by a woman with not much experience but at a far lower salary. His long experience did not count! And then comes the long ordeal on the train for which he was not at all prepared – no one can be, of course. A series of events on the train leads him to nowhere, and he is being challenged by the mysterious lady on the train who gave him the money to find someone on the train.

I was thinking – why couldn’t she find that person if she wanted to eliminate that person so badly? Why would she use Liam Neeson and in the process, also eliminate perfectly normal commuters? But it is the way the movie is scripted and directed – not much of a logic in the way it has been constructed.

This is not a movie that I would seek out and go see in a theatre. I saw the movie on my recent flight, selected it because it appeared to be an exciting thriller. However, I need to say that “The Commuter” is not a great movie with a great plot and direction. I saw it primarily for Liam Neeson’s acting, but he can’t do much if the plot is weak or has no logic, right?

While there is not much of a rationale in the manner in which the movie plays out, I liked the way Liam Neeson handles the pressure of his role – what if this were a true story which it very well could be? Then we would need a Liam Neeson who at the purported age of 60 in the movie (he is actually 65 now) could deal with enormous pressure without breaking, and execute his mental plan with agility though many a time he appears rather confused with the way things are turning out. There is not one dull moment in the flow of the movie directed by the famous Spanish Director Jaume Collet-Serra. I saw the movie non-stop, not even looking around the plane – all the time wondering what is going to happen. Where is this mysterious person who has some prohibited data so desired by his/her potential killers, that they would go to any extent to kill him/her even with all the collateral damage and a huge train accident. Why do they want him/her killed, and why can’t they find him/her by themselves if that person is on this specific train, etc.,

The movie shows every inch of a typical New York commuter train, and it is hard to miss anything as the director and the cameraman are indeed spending all their time in the train! They even show the undercarriage of the train as Liam Neeson had to hide, hanging down on the undercarriage almost touching the ground. There are unbelievable scenes like separating the carriage in which several people are held together from the racing train which has no driver as he has been eliminated. Liam Neeson proves that he was a cop before becoming an insurance salesman.

The worst surprise happens when Neeson’s own past police colleague turns out to be the perpetrator of the vicious crime on the train, but that is for you to see, right?

Have a wonderful weekend folks,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

7th July 2018