The Commuter SPOILER-FREE Review

Going into The Commuter, I wasn't expecting too much from it. Just from the type of film that it is--a January action movie--I didn't think it would have a brilliant story or great character development or anything like that. With this, I was mainly looking to be entertained. If this movie could deliver on some high-adrenaline action sequences, and effectively engage me in them, then I would be happy. Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson have actually had a couple good collaborations together, mainly Run All Night. That film certainly had good action sequences, but I was equally as invested in the characters and story as well. It rose above being a typical throwaway action movie. However, with The Commuter's release being in January, I didn't think it would end up reaching the levels of a Run All Night. And it doesn't. While The Commuter does have a few entertaining moments, an unrealistic plot and flimsy character development make it hard to become invested in the film, and thus makes it an overall rather lackluster experience. 

While on his usual commute home, Michael (Neeson) is approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) who offers him $100,000 to find the person on the train who doesn't belong. 

Right out of the gate, The Commuter hits its lowest point. The beginning title sequence is a haphazardly edited together mess, being a series of mornings for Michael. The point Collet-Serra is trying to make is obvious--displaying the day-to-day boring routine of the main character--but the execution of it is utterly laughable. It began to hurt my head just from how poorly it was all put together. This made me really nervous, as I became afraid that this is what the entire movie was going to be like. Luckily, it picked up. Sprinkled throughout the film are some truly horrendous moments and cheesy lines, yes, but the movie doesn't fall back to nearly the same lows as this opening sequence. There is some fun to be had with this film, and some will find this film entertaining. There are a couple of sequences where I was locked in, such as a long shot fight involving a guitar, as well as a scene in which Liam Neeson is clinging to the outside of the train. These encapsulated moments are very well done, and are compelling in of themselves. Unfortunately, the film as a whole doesn't keep this same level of momentum or intensity, and I ultimately found myself losing interest in the story a fair amount of the time. 

The initial concept the movie presents is actually quite interesting. It sets itself up with an interesting social question, of what people will do to protect themselves and to what lengths they will help others. This moral dilemma Michael is put in could have gone in a really cool direction, and could have made the film rather compelling. However, subsequent cliches and plot holes overtake the movie instead, and the potential for a fascinating social commentary is wasted. Upon the reveal of the final twists, inconsistencies come about. Once the story begins defying very basic logic, such as guns firing off in one compartment of the train and nobody in the neighboring compartment having the slightest idea anything is happening, it became very hard for me to stay invested. There are many improbabilities that arise, such as how certain characters know the information they do, or how all of these coincidences perfectly align. For a movie like this, you can usually forgive that kind of thing. However, the trade-off to that is that I became far less invested in the film, and thus, I am less engaged. When that happens, it becomes hard to find anything really enjoyable. Like I said before, there are some fun moments, and there are engaging sequences. But when you weigh that with the film as a whole, there simply isn't enough to make it an overall enjoyable and entertaining experience.  

Overall, it boils down to the fact that The Commuter is another forgettable January movie. It's not nearly as bad as other January movies have been in the past, and it's not nearly as horrendous as it could have been. But it doesn't stand out among the muck in any way; there's nothing making The Commuter anything special. It's not the worst movie in the world at all, but there's nothing truly redeeming that makes it worthy of being seen. It has some fun sequences and some engaging moments, but I found myself somewhat bored and disinterested a lot throughout the movie. In terms of some of Jaume Collet-Serrra's other work, such as Run All Night or The Shallows, it's not nearly as good. With those movies, Collet-Serra mixes entertainment with deliberately crafted filmmaking, however The Commuter simply feels average. And average isn't really enough for a movie to stand out in this day and age. The Commuter may be good to watch on Netflix or home video if it's a rainy day and you having nothing else to do. But as a movie you would go to the theater and drop $15 or so bucks to see, I personally don't think it's worth it. Those who enjoy mindless action movies, and aren't bothered by plot holes, character inconsistencies, and out-of-the-blue cheesiness, may end up appreciating The Commuter. But I personally found that the few entertaining moments it did have didn't outweigh the movie's lackluster nature.


What do you think? Have you seen The Commuter? If not, are you planning on seeing it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nathanael Moln├ír
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