In any case, after participating in the Taken series, the actor started acting in a series of genre-like films such as Non Stop, A Walk Among The Tombstones or Run All Night, in which he broke bad guys. The Commuter is another in a series of such projects.
Here he interprets Michael McAuli, a former police officer and a caring family man who has been working as an insurance salesman for ten years. During those ten years, he used a train to get to and from work. On one occasion, an unknown passenger, Joanna (Vera Farmiga), approaches him and starts chatting with him. In the end, she offers him a generous offer, and all he has to do is a little thing, which will change the life of one of the passengers. At first, Michael is not sure if it is a joke or a serious situation, but he agrees to solve a riddle in which all the passengers on the train are suspicious…
Catalan director Jaume Collet-Serra is working with Neeson for the fourth time in this film. In collaboration with a trio of screenwriters, he brings a film that is quite similar to his working works, in which an ordinary man is interrupted in his daily activities because he is caught in a high-ranking political conspiracy. The concept of a race against time, in which our hero must find a certain passenger until the train arrives at the last station, is interesting, but the train itself does not leave too much room for maneuver. That’s why this is a pretty minimalist thriller and, in essence, we watch our hero running from one car to another.
Several complications for our hero have been added to the interesting concept, such as the fact that someone in the car can work for him or against him. Also, his attempt to detect passengers in such a limited environment easily provokes unwanted attention. In that attempt to do as much as they can with the material they are working on, so that the plot would not be simple, the screenwriters lost their effectiveness. Apart from works with a strong plot twist, I think that thrillers work best when they don’t get too complicated. When they get complicated, it usually happens that the logic is totally set aside, which happened in the movie The Commuter.
After some time, the screenwriters, like us viewers, realize that the concept is slowly falling apart. That’s why a lot of action scenes with some really good fights, whose choreography is excellent, are inserted into the story. However, although these fights are technically perfect, they do not seem to be a rational choice of our character and do not make much sense, especially the one in which Michael fights with a character using a guitar and an ax while pushing each other’s head through a moving car. It is this fight that was filmed in one take, and its visual perfection fails to completely distract us from the fact that this fight is meaningless.
Also, there is Michael, whose situation seems confusing for him as well, because he could solve so much only if he simply explained to the passengers what was happening. Surrounded by people who follow and observe him inside the train, in the end we don’t even know who these people are at all. The final huge conspiracy of invisible forces becomes another complication, because it is not clear to me why they would limit their resources to a former police officer doing detective work, when there are better solutions to their problem. Liam Neeson did a really good job, but the fact is that even his appearance fails to make this film.