I completely agree with the Rotten Tomatoes Consensus on this one.
The Commuter is essentially Non-Stop on a train with a less heightened theme, but its cast and its commitment to go through the motions of minor character work, staging a theme, throwing in a few chuckles, a good action scene or two without once feeling like its wasting the audiences time makes it good fodder for cheap Tuesday matinée or streaming rental. I spent my money and got my ticket’s worth.
You get the sense that all the players on this train are happy to be gainfully employed. Character actor Jonathan Banks Emmy nominated for Breaking Bad & Better Call Saul and recently seen as the racist grandpa in Netflix’s critically acclaimed Mudbound is one of the familiar faces that populate this train. The likable Patrick Wilson who co-starred in Neeson’s underrated A-Team adaptation joins his Conjuring co-star Vera Farmiga (reuniting with her Orphan director, in her second train movie after Source Code), and other familiar faces like Elizabeth McGovern and Sam Neill who may or may not be a dirty cop are along for the ride making you ask the central question about who doesn’t belong, and what role do they have to play? Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (Blake Lively shark thriller summer hit The Shallows) is efficient enough not to waste these roles or overvalue them.
This is Collet-Serra’s fourth movie with Neeson in 7 years after Unknown (2011), Non-Stop (2014), Run All Night (2015) and I haven’t tired of it. Liam Neeson however has, and has said this’ll be his penultimate action movie on account of his older age (check out his excellent 60 Minutes interview). When his character Michael MacCauley achingly bellows “I’m sixty!” in a desperate attempt to find his dignity after being fired, it’s shocking because you don’t normally see older action heroes cop to old age. How long has Tom Cruise been playing someone in their late 30’s? It’s impressive that at 65 Neeson’s still a physically credible threat due in part to his 6’4 frame. He’s not some pathetic latter day Roger Moore-era Bond, and the movie manages to work his character with the rest of the ensemble’s middle class anxieties into a theme about finding nobility in indignity. As far as comparisons to Neeson’s other vehicles in the last 10 years (It’s been a fun decade!) it’s his 3rd shortest overall. Quality wise:
- The Grey (2011)
- Taken (2008)
- The A-Team (2010)
- A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)
- Non-Stop (2014)
- The Commuter (2018)
- Run All Night (2015)
- Unknown (2011)
- Taken 2 (2012)
- Taken 3 (2015)
You get what you take I suppose.