There may come a day when I tire of seeing 65-year-old Liam Neeson try to run and stop some bad guys, but that day is not here yet. It’s been nearly a decade since the Irish actor starred in Taken, kicking off one of the most entertaining second acts in history. While he’s had highs (Silence) and lows (Battleship) since then, he’s been reliable for at least one solid action movie a year.
The Commuter is his fourth collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra, following Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night. The Spanish director has become one of the finest purveyors of B-movies. No one would seriously consider any of his movies classics, but they’re almost all entertaining diversions, which is often the best you can hope for in the early months of a given year.
If you’ve seen any of these, you know what to expect: Liam Neeson is placed in a highly ridiculous situation with lives at stake, including his family. (“Give me back my child!” should be his quote on the statue we should erect one day.)
The script was re-written by Ryan Engle, who did the same on Non-Stop, and the similarities are striking. They’re essentially the same movie, only on different modes of transportation. Instead of a terrorist with a bomb, Neeson (as lowly insurance salesman Michael MacCauley) must find a murder witness with a hard drive. Both films are filled with red herrings, physics-defying stunts and at least one dead federal agent. This one tries to add some global conspiracy and righteous indignation at Wall Street, but those just feel like clunky add-ons to a tried-and-true “Die Hard on a whatever” story.
It may soon be time for Neeson to get back to supporting roles in quality dramas. Seeing him barrel roll out of the way of an oncoming train and jumping onto a moving train is laughable at this point, but never less than entertaining. The Commuter isn’t nearly the movie that Source Code was, but its ambitions are much lower. For an early-year dumb-fun thriller, The Commuter is the one to catch.