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The Commuter Actually Delivers a Good Suspense Film

'The Commuter' Actually Delivers a Good Suspense Film

'The Commuter' Actually Delivers a Good Suspense Film

The Commuter stays true to its genre , but wastes a great cast. 

What would you do if a stranger on a train gave you a wad of cash in exchange for a small, but not insignificant deed? That’s the question Liam Neeson desperately tries to answer in The Commuter, an action-packed film that’s got moral dilemmas for days.

Neeson plays Michael McCauley, an ex-cop who’s laid off from his long-time sales job only to be approached on a train by an overly friendly but very attractive woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) with a high-paying proposition: find one person on a crowded train and tag their bag with a GPS tracking device. Sounds relatively simple, right? Only if you’ve never commuted during rush hour in New York City.

Neeson’s character spends the remainder of the film trying in vain to find this one passenger who goes by the name Prynne and is carrying evidence of a crime. He works his way up and down the train, using his police training to narrow down suspects and eliminate the innocents. But he makes a few fatal mistakes along the way.

Upon seeing the trailer, I had high hopes for the film. Neeson is always great in action flicks and Vera Farmiga is one of today’s most charismatic actresses. Unfortunately, Farmiga is sorely underutilized as is Patrick Wilson (who plays Michael’s ex-partner) and Sam Neill (who plays a New York City police captain).

Wasted acting talent aside, the film does have its strong points. It’s packed with action and you really do feel a sense of terror when confronted with Michael’s plight. You want to root for him and, in my opinion, a film can’t ask any more of its audience than that.

As a native New Yorker, I also found the opening images really compelling. You truly feel as though you’re being transported to New York City. The commuter train sequences are equally compelling, and it was interesting to see how the writers weaved bits of #commuterlife into the plot.

While the premise of the film is strong, there are some points that I just didn’t get. I don’t believe for one second that a savvy, New York salesman who commutes daily through the city would partake in these shenanigans. Why should he even believe that Joanna is telling the truth about the money, Prynne, or anything else? Yes, the stakes are high and Michael is in need of cash, but is a man of his social standing really that desperate? I would venture to say not. Alas, Michael does take a walk on the wild side, if only to ease his curiosity. Too bad it gets him into a world of trouble.

There are also some twists in the film that are so preposterous they seem fueled only by Michael’s paranoia about the situation. If anything, The Commuter would have benefitted from tighter writing. The acting and directing are well done, though, given the script.

Overall, The Commuter is a decent suspense film that most in the family can enjoy. (Can someone just please give Vera Farmiga a role that actually makes use of her talents??)

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Tm Obscura

TM Obscura is a writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.

TM Obscura is a writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.