The Commuter Review
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At the beginning of every year, the last releases of Award Season make their way through theaters, mingling with the first releases of another Movie Dead Zone—that time of year when studios toss out their bad comedies and brainless action. And it doesn’t get much more brainless than Liam Neeson’s The Commuter.

The Commuter takes place on what seems to be just another day for Neeson’s Michael MacCauley. For the last 10 years, he’s taken the same train into the city to work as an insurance agent, and he’s taken the same train home. But this day is different. He loses his job and finds himself desperate to provide for his family—especially his son, who’s about to start college. Then he gets on the train home, where a mysterious woman gives him a strange proposition with a payout that could fix all of his problems.

If the premise of The Commuter sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because most of Liam Neeson’s action movies revolve around the same general idea. Neeson once again plays a strong and intensely loyal older man. He often has a background in some kind of law enforcement—and, this time, he’s a former cop who chose safety and stability over The Job. And while he seems like a mild-mannered husband and/or father, there’s much more to him than meets the eye—and it isn’t long until he finds himself forced to make difficult decisions in a desperate attempt to protect his family from ruthless criminals.

As usual, though, Neeson makes the film entertaining. Michael is a likable character: hard-working, trustworthy, and fiercely devoted to his family. He’s tough but vulnerable—the kind of character that audiences can root for.

Everything here is boilerplate Liam Neeson. It’s the kind of movie that the unlikely action hero can most likely make in his sleep. There really isn’t much to it; Michael spends most of the movie growling into a phone and pacing through the train in a search for answers. There are a few fights and a few trashed train cars—though it doesn’t really seem to faze anyone on board (apparently this is a pretty rough daily commute). There’s plenty of mystery and suspense to keep things interesting, too—though not a lot of surprises.

Really, The Commuter is about the best that audiences can hope for from a January action movie. It’s tense and engaging with an unquestionably likable star. It’s definitely an entertaining film, but it’s so similar to Neeson’s other films that it’s almost instantly forgettable.

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