Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Commuter (2018)

Michael Macauley takes the same train to work every morning and takes the same train home.  He knows most of the regular passengers.  Then, one day he gets fired from his job selling insurance polices.  He’s a good employee, but apparently not good enough to support what they’re paying him.  He stops at a bar for a few drinks with a friend before catching his regular train home.

As if the shock of being fired wasn’t enough, his phone is stolen.  He’s then approached by a mysterious woman named Joanna.  She offers up a hypothetical question that turns out to be not so hypothetical.  Would he do one little thing if he got paid $100,000?

It turns out that $25,000 is on the train and there’s a promise of the other $75,000 if he can find a person with a bag.  She doesn’t tell him what the person or the bag look like.  All he knows is that the passenger goes by Prynne and is getting off at the last stop.  He has until then to find them.  Oh, and his wife’s wedding ring is in his pocket, should he get any ideas.

I’m not going to give away any details beyond that, but I will say that there weren’t too many surprises in the movie.  I’ve seen Non-Stop and I found this movie to be very similar.  Liam Neeson plays a character with a law-enforcement background forced into a situation where he has to help someone do something or someone dies.  To prove the point, people are killed.  (This is no surprise if you’ve seen the coming attractions.)  Just to prove that the movie isn’t entirely the same as Non-Stop, they throw in a minor similarity to Robocop.  (There’s a Detective Lieutenant Alex Murphy.  I don‘t know if this was intentional or not.)

The Commuter is sort of a weak mystery story.  Michael is able to narrow down the field when he realizes that the stations are grouped in zones for purposes of fares.  Each ticket shows a zone, meaning he doesn’t have to wait for everyone else to get off.  He can eliminate most of the people early on.  (On this note, I’ll admit that I’ve only been on the Long Island Railroad once, but don’t people put the tickets on the seat in front of them?  Here, it shows the passengers with the tickets placed on their own seats.)

Michael makes several passes up and down the train, trying to discern who this Prynne is.  It’s somewhat difficult for him to interrogate the people directly, as tipping his hand might prove disastrous.  (This becomes less of a concern as the movie goes on.)  The movie didn’t quite pull this premise off.  It’s not that the movie failed at it outright.  It’s just that it wasn’t enough to carry the story.  The antagonist is mostly absent from the movie and deals with Michael through proxies and cell phones.  It makes for a very lopsided story.

Most people will probably be better off waiting for the movie to come out on DVD.  I would have done the same had I not had MoviePass.  With the price of a ticket covered, my only concern was making the movie on time.  The primary reason that the movie was entertaining at all is that Liam Neeson at least plays the role well.  It’s a convincing performance, at least.  If you’re a fan of his other movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one.  Whether you want to see it in the theater or at home is up to you.

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