With pandering references to the big banks throughout, "The Commuter", has just enough smarts to make its final destination disappointing. Such a woeful time of year for new releases warrants repeating the old warning: If you see something, say something. It's not going to launch a catchphrase and a series of movies like "Taken", but it has all of the elements that you want - Liam Neeson as an old dude with incredible skills, frantically trying to solve a mystery and beating the tar out of some baddies in the process. As I tell you the plot, please bear in mind none of this could ever happen. It's probably asking a bit too much for an action movie like this. After hitting the pub for a few drinks with his former partner on the police force (Patrick Wilson), Michael heads home as he does most days on the Hudson North commuter line. The film commences the bafflement from the off, with a needlessly tricksy opening-credits sequence, rife with repeated fades to black, that splits and splices timelines - all for the sake of establishing the thoroughly mundane morning routine of Michael MacCauley (Neeson), a gray-suited insurance salesman and family man who commutes daily between his Manhattan office and his well-cushioned upstate home. Needless to say, things are far more complicated than she presents them, and soon enough, all hell breaks loose on the train back upstate. With his family in danger and no way to ask for help without further endangering innocent passengers, Michael has to use his detecting skills to find this mysterious passenger and figure out what makes them so important to some obviously risky people. The ex-cop responds, "why would I do it?"
"She's a wonderful actress", he said. She offers to pay him $100,000, but her question is never answered to my satisfaction - though I admit that much money can be a powerful motivator! NOT so little it turns out because she has murder on her mind.
It becomes clear that Mike really has no choice, as he learns that his wife and son (Elizabeth McGovern and Dean-Charles Chapman) are being held hostage as leverage, and will be killed if he doesn't comply.
Some of the most extreme scenes are seen in the trailer, but the fact that 65-year-old Liam Neeson is jumping from train auto to train vehicle, and successfully hanging on for dear life underneath them, is worthy of critical emphasis. It doesn't help matters that the mysterious woman always has someone watching him, any attempt at subverting her plans resulting in deadly consequences for someone on the train, and she may or may not have had Michael's family kidnapped. Him or her, and I didn't guess the identity of the witness he must identify. They balance the fights scenes here slightly better than in the action movie, which lowers the amount of obviously spectacular-looking moves but makes the entire fight more engaging overall. "The Commuter" was made in London with a 30-ton rail auto imported from here and a spirit that remains true to our city. Okay, if not the world, then people in his vicinity. It was reportedly spoken by a real conductor interviewed by one of the writers as part of his research for "The Commuter". Turn off your brains, and you'll both have a pretty good time.