Hear Tim Lammers’ review of “The Commuter” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show” (Segment begins 10:30 in).
“The Commuter” (R)
Liam Neeson is rolling down an all-too familiar path with “The Commuter,” an action thriller that’s a mishmash of several action films, including “Non-Stop” (an in-air thriller that closely mimics this film), “Phone Booth,” “Murder on the Orient Express” and countless others. It’s clear at this point in his career that Neeson, who flirted with the idea of retiring from action films, is in it for the paycheck for this one, and he sleepwalks through what starts as interesting premise but quickly devolves into a manic, monotonous, well, train wreck.
The initial premise of “The Commuter” is promising, as Michael McCauley (Neeson) seems to have found a comfortable life as a life insurance salesman in the 10 years since he left the NYPD. But time has finally caught up with the 60-year-old worker, who is suddenly let go from his firm. Wracked with worry about how he and his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) are going to make ends meet and send their son to college, Michael is suddenly approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) on his commuter train ride home. Her proposition is simple. Find a person on the train named Prin, who is carrying a backpack containing stolen device, and plant a GPS bug on them.
It’s a seemingly easy enough gig until Michael realizes that he’s made a deal with the devil. If he decides to walk away from the job, it will put his loved ones in peril, and if he carries through the job, there will be repercussions on that end, too. Looking for ways to get out of the quandary, Michael only makes the situation for himself worse by the minute.
Directed by “Non-Stop” helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (who also directed Neeson in “Run All Night”), the prospects of “The Commuter” building on the promise of its bright premise quickly fade as Neeson finds himself in implausible predicaments, yet, given the fact he is the man who will forever have “a particular set of skills,” manages to wrangle his way out of every single one of them. The film is also hopelessly predictable, which makes this ride a long and agonizing commute that’s in the end, just loud and annoying. The only way you could enjoy this movie is laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. But it’s not an action comedy. It’s an action farce.
Lammometer: 3 (out of 10)
Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.
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