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In The Commuter, Liam Neeson Saves a Train with Implausible Aplomb

In The Commuter, Liam Neeson Saves a Train with Implausible Aplomb
From TIME - January 12, 2018

Jaume Collet-Serra, director of Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and the superb shark-amok thriller The Shallows, understands two things well: The enduring pleasures of watching angry sea beasts go to town, and the bruised-lion appeal of the 60-something Liam Neeson. The Shallows, beautifully made and taut as a drumskin, is Collet-Serras best movie. Unknown, Non-Stop, Run All Night and now, The Commuterall featuring Neeson, commanding yet vulnerable in that inimitable Neeson wayare shakier entertainments, but no one is trying to sell you something youre not actually going to get. The Commuter could be summed up thus: Liam Neeson saves a commuter train. If youre on board for that, well then, all aboard.

Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an insurance salesman who lives in the suburbs of New York and commutes to the city every day for his jobwhich he loses within the films first 15 minutes. How to tell his wife (a sadly underused Elizabeth McGovern) and college-bound kid (Dean-Charles Chapman)? Hes one of these guys who appears to have plenty of money but is in fact dangerously over-leveraged, a symbol of the reality that even the most stable, hardworking guy can fall through the systems cracks. And to be out of a job at age 60 is nobodys idea of fun.

Before boarding the train homeand after meeting an old pal and colleague, played by Patrick Wilson, for drinksMichael loses his phone, a bad omen if ever there were one. And once hes on the trainwhere he chats with the fellow travelers he sees on this route every weekday, as well as checking out, with benign curiosity, the faces of the riders hes never seen beforehe meets a beguiling stranger: Why, its Vera Farmiga in a fab pair of two-tone high heels! She has a proposition for him. Stuff happens. In the end, he saves the train.

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