The 400-Word Review: The Commuter
By Sean Colleir
January 15, 2018
It might not be wise to read this review.
If, that is, you are hoping to enjoy The Commuter, the slapdash new action amalgamation from director Jaume Collet-Serra. And it can be done! You can enjoy it! You just have to pay very, very little attention to it. If you can somehow maintain a state of half-awareness throughout — wherein you assume that any utter nonsense is an oversight on your part and not on the part of the film itself — it’s a fair enough ride.
If you’re really breaking it down ... I mean, just don’t do that.
Collet-Serra previously directed Liam Neeson, the patron saint of retirement-age asskickers, in 2011’s Unknown, 2014’s Non-Stop and 2015’s Run All Night. He took a rare Neeson break to imperil Blake Lively in 2016’s The Shallows, but he just cannot go too long without making his rugged muse suss out a dire situation.
This time: He’s on a commuter train when a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) tells him he needs to use his ex-cop skills to determine which of his fellow passengers is an FBI informant. Once he figures it out, he’ll be given $100,000, the passenger will be killed and Neeson’s wife and child will not.
What — you thought no one was going to threaten Liam Neeson’s wife and child? What would be the point, then?
So he (sorta) deduces who’s who and what’s going on while punching lots of people, leading to a frenetic climactic sequence where certain (but not all) things are revealed.
Wait for Netflix, kinda stare at your phone. Look up when he starts fighting someone or the music swells. It’ll be fine. In a few days, you’ll forget that this and Non-Stop are different movies.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice at the end of your experience that this is the rare movie that never bothers to explain what was going on; the reasons behind the entire plot are never revealed. Nor is it explained why such a labyrinthine plot needs to be unleashed just to identify an informant. Nor is it explained how the bad guys — I’m not obfuscating their identity to keep you guessing, I’m saying bad guys because we never actually found out who they were — are able to kill about a half-dozen people and derail a train with impunity.
God, I hope this doesn’t mean they’re thinking sequel.
My Rating: 5/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark