Liam Neeson takes the fight to the rails in "The Commuter"


Collet-Serra uses his claustrophobic setting to his advantage while also weaving a story about the allure of corruption in a system many believe to be inherently corrupt.

Neeson plays the title role as Michael, an ex-cop whose eventful day starts with being laid off from his job at a Manhattan insurance firm, where he's only a few years from retirement. With virtually no idea of what he's meant to do or why, he hesitates to take anything further, until it is made clear to him that he's being monitored at every turn and his wife and sons are in mortal danger if he doesn't do exactly what is asked of him.

Hours before he is to take the train home one day, Michael is fired and given a severance package. If he does as he's told, he'll get $100,000; if he fails or refuses, his family will die. Tt's life or death, not only for him, but the rest of the passengers. With The Commuter, Collet-Serra and his star return to the action-oriented style of their first two team-ups, but it's clear that a third trip to that particular well is coming up largely empty. Instead, it leans into his sixty-five years of experience, showing someone who is both skilled yet helpless.

How many times do we have to see this movie? Same movie. Train this time. I wish the movie had done more with the moral conundrum Michael found himself in, but at least there's an acknowledgment of why Joanna's offer would be tempting rather than going straight to threatening Michael's family.

So carefully orchestrated, it must be said, that the bevy of screenwriters credited for the caper, have crafted yet another thriller which involves a nefarious plan so meticulously organized and prearranged, with everything timing out perfectly in every way, it becomes pretty clear early on it would have been much, much easier and more efficient to actually just dispatch a single, trained assassin to do the work instead.

Mississippi Burning case: KKK killer dies
The trio went missing after being arrested by local police on a traffic charge while in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Even after his imprisonment, Killen was said to maintain segregationist views about racial inequality.

Well, it's not a game and next thing you know he's dragging his lanky frame up and down the train cars trying to find a mysterious person with a mysterious bag before his family is nabbed or someone else gets killed. He's been a boon to the action genre, encouraging other respected veterans to get their own kind of franchise where they can dish out punishment.

Collet-Serra shows us in the opening moments that over time Michael's morning routine has stayed constant, with a long train ride to and from the city. Is it her?! No, no, no, wait: "maybe it's him again!' I think they really like a guessing game as to who the bad guy is or who the bad girl is".

On the train home - after a mysterious brush with someone that has resulted in the loss of his phone - Michael sees more familiar faces, those of his fellow daily riders, including Walt (Jonathan Banks).

Fine, so that last title is from the Seinfeld Movie Universe and not the Collet-Serra/Neeson Movie Universe - but if and when somebody DOES make a film titled "Death Blow", nearly any plot attached to it is likely to be more believable and less predictable than this tedious and sloppy and downright stupid junk. It may not be as smooth or devilishly clever as a Hitchcock movie, but The Commuter is still exhilarating all the same. But the ramp up of the mystery and Michael's increasing desperation-he's clever enough to have a chance but not a Holmes-level detective who has it all figured out-makes for a compelling experience.