The Commuter (2018): ‘Part of a Genre’ – A Film Review

Introduction

Liam Neeson has gained attention in recent years for his Taken trilogy, which revolve around family members at stake as he takes bloody and violent vengeance upon their kidnappers. Creating an action hero in Neeson as he stands for a father’s protective instincts for his family. This trilogy, in a very similar way to Die Hard, made a hero of an otherwise troubled and frustrated central character. The Commuter by director Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle is very much an action film in the aftermath of the Taken franchise.

 

Camera and Characters

What may be surprising in this film is just how the camera treats its characters. In fairly creative use of time, we pass through many years, if not years then seasons at least, for the characters as we build an emotional core to the central characters. For many commuters there is the daily routine and the regularity of everything that happens around us – it becomes background. With fast edits and jump cuts we establish that things around the character changes but all the while he stays the same and life stays the same. This is a rather impressive insight into the characters life through an inventive use of cinematography and editing, which is quite subtle at times and almost milked when Liam Neeson (Michael MacCauley) finds himself alone amongst increasingly blurring extras. This set up powerfully connects the everyman to the central character whilst also building up a sense of wasted potential. This carries on throughout as he isn’t shown to be particularly appreciated by characters or circumstances around him – like his job. Very quickly, The Commuter, shows it’s character to have similar weaknesses as the character in Taken or Die Hard. This is powerful for action films as it effectively gives the audience hope in what they can, actually, fight for.

 

Genre as the Imitation Trend

Unfortunately, much like Taken, Liam Neeson is then thrown into a situation he must resolve in a much the same tread-through as before to force his hand and bring out his inner strengths. The situation is very different, but the stakes are the same, as has also been done with many films before it. Fortunately, Liam Neeson holds this up very well and is well supported by a surrounding cast including Patrick Wilson, Jonathan BanksSam Niell and newcomer Ella-Rae Smith. Fight scenes feel gritty and trapping and thanks to the wonderful set up, the audience can easily be swept up in Liam Neeson’s every effort. Despite Liam Neeson’s strengths, they are also his weaknesses. His character doesn’t stray far from a lot of his previous roles and it feels like we’re watching Liam Neeson, happily, but not Michael MacCauley. Despite the good cast, the script doesn’t give much in terms of a challenging antagonist but a situation that feels stale at times.

 

Conclusion

A film for Liam Neeson and action fans and it’s a well done film at that, but it is just good enough. Entertaining to the point that you won’t regret your ticket, but despite a promising start and complimenting performances and action sequences, there is nothing more to bring it out to the same standards as Taken and Die Hard for which there are far too many similarities that work for the film but also keep it blurred amongst them.

 

Synopsis

An ex-cop (Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley) is caught in a decision on a train to catch a passenger for someone who has his family at hostage. He finds himself desperate to try every wit he can to find the passenger he simply has no choice but to find.

Ratings

Entertainment:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Predictability:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

Technical:

 starfish starfish starfish starfish starfish

 

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.

 

Films Mentioned

Die Hard (d. John McTiernan USA 1988)

Taken (d. Pierre Morel France 2008)

Taken 2 (d. Olivier Megaton France/USA 2012)

Taken 3 (d. Olivier Megaton France/USA/Spain 2017)

The Commuter (d. Jaume Collet-Serra USA/UK 2018))

 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Liam Neeson

Interview with Patrick Wilson and Jaume Collet-Serrad

Interview with Paul Cameron (Cinematographer)

Behind the Scenes

How Die Hard paved the way for 25 years of Action Films

Taken and the subsequent films to follow…

 

If you liked this…

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017): The Sequel or Franchise? – A Film Review

Murder on the Orient Express (2017): Performing a Book – A Film Review

Logan (2017) – A Film Review

London Has Fallen (2016) – A film Review

 

This was an analytical review of….

 

The Commuter (d. Jaume Collet-Serra USA/UK 2018)

 

 



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