Ageing action star Liam Neeson at it again

Monday January 22, 2018 Written by Published in Entertainment
A scene from The Commuter, now screening at Empire Cinema. 18011906 A scene from The Commuter, now screening at Empire Cinema. 18011906

WHEN I first saw the poster for the new Liam Neeson film, The Commuter, I didn’t think it was a real movie. (Tagline: His life is on the line.)

 

It seemed like someone on Facebook had created a joke poster, making light of the venerable actor’s recent work.

Over the past decade, Neeson has been on a plane, in the snow and travelled the globe, all while kicking butt and taking names – and now he’s doing the same thing again, only this time on a train.

Obviously The Commuter is a very real movie, one that combines elements of some of Neeson’s most notable recent work to produce what is a reasonably compelling thriller.

Beginning in rather jarring fashion by showing a number of mornings in very quick succession, the story follows Michael (Neeson), an insurance salesman who catch-es the train into work every morning, and has done for the past 10 years.

The majority of the film takes place over one (fairly unfortunate) day, as Michael is fired early on and travels back home on the train, wondering if this latest financial hurdle is one too far.

He is thrown a lifeline by the enigmatic Joanna (Vera Farmiga) – all he has to do is find a mysterious someone known only as ‘Prynne’, who isn’t part of the usual com-muter crowd, and $100,000 is his.

Apparently aware of Michael’s ex-policeman past, Joanna believes he’ll be more than capable of finding this person, as he must do so before the final stop.

Joanna departs the train as soon as she has dispensed this information, which is when the thriller aspect of The Commuter really gets going.

Suddenly there are a number of suspects, and I would advise filmgoers to pay close attention to the actions and movements of passengers.

This early sequence – the lead into and beginning of Michael’s search – contains the most interesting moments of the movie, as that’s when there is still a mystery about why this is happening to him.

But whenever the film moves away from our central character it starts to lag.

Every so often Michael will say it’s been 10 years since he left the police force to take up his insurance job – but it’s also been 10 years since Neeson gave up serious acting roles to become this generation’s geriatric movie star.

Once best known for his performance as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Schindler’s List, he has now become ‘that guy’ for seemingly every action movie.

But now that he is 65 (60 in the film), it feels ever so faintly ridiculous seeing him get done over in a fight and somehow walk away with hip still intact.

Easily the laziest part of the movie is Joanna, who departs the train only to become some kind of all-seeing, all-knowing villain.

With what appears to be almost limitless resources at her disposal, why doesn’t she just cut out the middleman and find Prynne herself?

Clearly she hasn’t been paying attention over the past 10 years; otherwise she’d know that messing with Liam Neeson is trouble.

But outside of that, The Commuter is a decent action/thriller that can be enjoyed with the family.

Fans of Neeson’s previous work will likely enjoy this greatly, particularly if they also enjoyed Non-Stop, in which the ageing action star got down to business on a plane instead of a train.

And based on his current track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if soon I see a poster of the next Liam Neeson movie set in a retirement home.

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