"The Commuter" review by Kenneth Turan

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This go-round, happily married devoted father Michael MacCauley (Neeson) gets chatted up by the lovely and mysterious Joanna (Vera Farmiga) as he heads home on his nightly commute.

Michael McCauley (Liam Neeson) is headed home after being laid off from his insurance job.

Neeson stars as Michael MacCauley. He has just committed to the job: finding a passenger and placing a Global Positioning System device on him or her that will allow Joanna's associates to track the mark. Collet-Serra made his name as a skilled schlockmeister with his House of Wax remake and horror/thriller Orphan in the 2000s, before he joined forces with Neeson (in the post-Taken stage of his acting career) for the 2011 mystery/thriller Unknown. The Commuter seems torn between its desire to be cathartic old-man action junk and its desire to make said junk be about something, and the road between throwing a dude off a train and linking his death to the evils of capitalism is a long and unpaved one. The latest in Waze's celebrity offerings-joining the ranks of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stephen Colbert, Morgan Freeman, and C-3PO, Neeson's voice is available until January 14 and can be set by firing up Waze and going into Settings Voice Directions Liam Neeson. In addition to Farmiga (who previously worked with Collet-Serra on Orphan) and her Conjuring movies costar Patrick Wilson, the movie further benefits from having seasoned character actors like McGovern filling out its ensemble, as well as Jonathan Banks and Sam Neill in smaller roles.

Many ridiculous things happen on the train.


I have to let you in on a little secret: if I'm home alone, have no work hanging over my head, all the shows I'm now watching are caught up, there's nothing I have to watch for work and no Okjas or other zeitgeist-y things I feel I have to watch, I'm gonna turn towards Liam Neeson... or Nicolas Cage.

Collet-Serra is known for infusing his B-grade movies with slick production values, and that remains the case with The Commuter. "Unknown" and "Non-Stop" are better efforts, but he also was working from better scripts. The camerawork from cinematographer Paul Cameron becomes a character in its own right. She and Neeson are interesting together in the early scene on the train, and we are left wanting much more of that.

Every morning at 6, Michael awakes in his home in Tarrytown, N.Y., to the sounds of all-news NY radio station 1010 Wins, checks to make sure his high school senior son (Dean-Charles Chapman) is up and at 'em, and gets a ride to the train station from his loving wife (Elizabeth McGovern).

As fun as Neeson's past action movies are, The Commuter misses the mark.


As for the action element of this whodunnit, fans of Neeson's Taken films won't be disappointed, even if the movie mostly takes place on the rails.

The Commuter is out in theaters on Friday, Jan. 12.

Rated PG-13 for some intense action/violence and language.

Well, it's not a game and next thing you know he's dragging his lanky frame up and down the train cars trying to find a mysterious person with a mysterious bag before his family is nabbed or someone else gets killed.


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