Bill Newcott's Movies For The Rest of Us

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Review: *** The Commuter

Liam Neeson Rails Against The Bad Guys

 Does Liam Neeson have lingering regrets for turning down the role of James Bond back in the 1980s? It’s the only explanation for why one of the screen’s most distinguished and nuanced actors keeps landing in mindless action-packed B-movies like The Commuter.


           Well, that and the hundreds of millions of dollars those mindless, action-packed B-movies pull in!


           Look at it this way: 2012’s Taken 2 made $140 million at the box office. Last year’s Scorsese masterpiece Silence: One-twentieth of that.


           No need to dwell on the details here: Neeson is a retired cop-turned-insurance-man who, in the course of his daily train commute in and out of New York City, finds himself trying to unmask an assassin and protect the killer’s would-be victim. Is it all pure chance, or has he been marked to be on this particular train at this specific time as part of a larger plot? And what about the mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) who keeps calling him and threatening the lives of his wife (the once-more underused Elizabeth McGovern) and child?


           Director Jaume Collet-Serra — who’s chased Neeson with his camera before in Unknown and Run All Night — has concocted an efficient, if derivative, action flick that cribs lustily from (and this is a partial list) Taken, Murder on the Orient Express, Die Hard, Speed, Strangers on a Train, The Fugitive and, oddly enough, Spartacus.


           Three screenwriters toiled on the script — apparently without consulting each other, because the film’s (READ MORE)

 

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