All good things must come to an end; Liam Neeson playing action heroes being one of them. In his latest man vs. mystery enemy role, Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an ex-police officer turned insurance salesman on his daily train ride home. During the commute a stranger called Joanna (Vera Farminga) strikes up a conversation with Michael about hypothesis and gives him a hypothetical scenario: there is someone on his train who doesn’t belong and if he finds out who it is before the train terminates he will win $100,000. He reluctantly listens and entertains the idea but as Joanna gets off the train she tells him that the hypothetical scenario is in fact reality and if he doesn’t identify the odd man out, there will be deadly consequences.
The Commuter is proof that if at first you don’t succeed, sometimes it’s best to stop. Director Jaume Collet-Serra is best known for his previous action thriller collaborations with Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, Unknown and Run All Night), all of which, with the exception of the latter were average at best. And The Commuter is no different. Collet-Serrra uses the same cliché formula and unsurprisingly the end result is just the same: a clunky film full of forced thrills and little else.
It lacks any real oomph or drive and despite Neeson’s many roles as an aging action hero, this is his least believable to date. Gone are the days when he could convincingly take out an enemy on his own, be it Albanian human traffickers or a pack of grey wolves. He spends the majority of his time in this film frantically pacing up and down train carriages like a mad-man, telling those who question his odd behaviour that he’s just trying to get more exercise. The only thing more ridiculous than this is the plot itself. It’s a deadly combination of being painfully dull and unnecessarily complicated; it could put even the most die-hard Neeson fans to sleep.