In viewing preposterous movies, bringing logic is like taking a sour guest to a party. Liam Neeson is well placed in these type of thrillers about labyrinth situations that deny explanation. Maybe it’s his look of experience mixed with compassion that counts. In The Commuter he plays Michael, a regular train passenger who is approached by a woman making an offer: that he accept large amounts of cash if he can find a passenger named Prim in one of the carts . The catch is that Prim may be in danger as a result.
The director is Jaume Collet-Serra who has worked with Neeson in movies like Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night. The trend continues in this story where Neeson moves against the clock in a train that doesn’t seem to stop, and against an unknown foe. Michael is mixed emotionally after losing his job as a life insurance agent while his family struggles financially. Profiling the passengers in search for Prim while quietly finding help from authorities gives him another motivation. All is done in sensational manner and sometimes using dim lighting plus occasional CGI to have a stylistic appearance. Two fight scenes go above average intensity and are done with fluid expertise such as one where a guitar is used for the wrong reason. Supporting actors include Sam Neil as captain of the police force and Patrick Wilson playing a subordinate cop who has a drink with Michael at the start. Vera Farmiga is the train woman with the offer who appears charming and outsmarting. The screenplay by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, and Ryan Engle has got suspense and pulls viewers in to consider the protagonist’s chances of keeping everyone safe on the train. As a thriller, it’s a ridiculous device but it does its job very well.