Through a rather nifty opening montage we meet ex-cop Mike (Liam Neeson) and his family. The tedium of his daily commute is cleverly revealed to us, as well as his financial difficulties. Two mortgages and a son about to start college are all taking their toll and Mike desperately needs some luck. But, he gets fired from his insurance job instead.
Too ashamed to tell his wife, he begins his long journey home. Just when you think his day couldn’t get any worse he’s approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) posing a question; would you take $100,000 to find someone on the train and plant a tracking device on them even though you know your actions will have a consequence for that person?
A rather dubious Mike accepts and subsequently, through a very particular set of circumstances, must use his very particular set of skills to follow a very particular set of instructions to eliminate a very particular person.
What follows is a rather brutal Hercule Poirot-esque investigation (minus the grace, style, finesse, subtlety and Belgian accent) to find the right person before Mike’s family gets hurt by some very nasty people who have the magical ability to know absolutely everything that’s happening on the train.
A series of fight scenes ensue, one involving a guitar is just ridiculous, until all of Mike’s potential suspects are herded into one carriage as the conspiracy surrounding him unravels, concluding in an impressively spectacular finale. The peripheral characters are pretty much forgettable although Adam Nagaitis as Conductor Jimmy provides some nice comic relief and rising star Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, as Oliver, also impresses.
Liam Neeson is as dependable as ever in this type of role, but it’s surely a matter of time before he says enough is enough and stops looking mean and moody with a gun in his hand for posters such as the one pictured above.
Despite all the silliness, The Commuter manages to be a decent enough thriller. If you like watching Liam Neeson punch people, you’ll enjoy it. If you can ignore the gaping plot holes and daftness, you’ll enjoy it. If not, you probably shouldn’t board this train.