I was lucky to get the chance to see this film, as Jamie only let me as he HAD to go on an amazing trip away and wasn’t able to see it. He seemed legitimately excited for it and I only really wanted to see it as I love terrible action films and I love seeing Liam Neeson punch people with more force and speed I could ever produce. If I’m honest, I didn’t think it would be good, I thought it would be terrible, but I assumed I would still enjoy it. Although, to my surprise, about 7 to 10 minutes into the film, I found myself already enjoying it, and not just in an ironic way but even genuinely.
As the movie opened up, it established that Qui-Gon took the same train every single day but in a clever montage that changed events during his morning routine while keeping his core actions the same, it’s hard to explain unless you watch it. But whoever had the idea to present his life this way, deserves more praise than they probably got, as it was an interesting hook and visual experience that set up characters and pacing early on.
After Darkmans life is established, he is posed with the threat that is shown in the trailer (which is finding a person who doesn’t belong and find their bag or something bad may happen). It’s an interesting take to go with and gives the character some decent motivation and without spoiling too much, it does take a few tropey turns but I don’t think it could’ve gone any other way and still be true to the movie it was being. This leads me to think that the story wasn’t actually that bad and neither was the pacing, that is until (not really spoilers because you see it in the trailer… for some reason) the train explodes, and Rob Roy has to deal with flying bits of metal and the almost boring aftermath. The story grinds to a halt and what plays out is the predictable ending and lackluster explanation for the mystery that was built up throughout the film.
Ra’s Ah Ghuls performance is actually pretty great and I feel his character was genuine and real the whole way through. I think with his age and perhaps what we’ve come to expect this was a no-brainer, but he did well, and I was pleasantly surprised. Vera Farmiga was also good, but wasn’t in it enough, neither was Patrick Wilson or *spoiler alert* Sam Neill. All actor’s and actresses were very good with the exception of the passengers who were almost just extras given lines; they weren’t terrible, but nothing really shone from their cookie cutter personalities and stereotyped performances.
The cinematography was very good and in the middle (and like most of Aslan’s films) there was a very well-choreographed fight scene that almost seemed like it was completely one shot. It was very close to being perfect but there were some clever edits, although either way I loved it and it was beautifully shot. Aside from that one fight scene, most of it was quite stylised and I liked nearly all the choices the director made… except for the train exploding scene, which I think is the movies biggest downfall, if that wasn’t clear already.
There’s not much else to say, the score was okay but never really stood out and the script was good but not great. It was mostly believable albeit a little predictable but in a fun, turn your brain off and let the surprise happen (even though you could smell the twist coming an hour in) sort of thing.
The idea I had when going into this film was that it would be another “Liam Neeson trapped in an enclosed space” movie ala Non-Stop but seeing as that I’ve never seen Non-Stop, I wouldn’t know even if it were. As it turns out, I went straight home after seeing the Commuter and put on Non-Stop and it does have some similarities but nothing overly glaring. The Commuter overall, I feel is a better film and honestly, one of the better films Liam Neeson has done in quite a while, so that added to my pleasant surprise. I’m not saying it was perfect because it certainly wasn’t, but I feel that overall it was a well-made film with some interesting story and decent pacing.