This is an action movie that brings new meaning to the adage of not talking to strangers, particularly if you meet them on a train! The movie stars Liam Neeson as the central character, and Vera Farmiga as the stranger who is the catalyst for all the action scenes that take place in this story.
Liam Neeson’s career has taken on an action man role in his later years. This film is no exception as he plays an insurance man who it turns out, is very capable of handling himself in a fight. The Commuter starts with Liam Neeson’s character named Michael MacCauley, going about his normal daily routine of getting up at 6am, having breakfast with his family and his wife driving him to the train station. His wife incidentally is played by Elizabeth McGovern (her of Downton Abbey fame). Liam works as an insurance salesman and is a hardworking, honest man faced with every day stresses; coming up with the money for his son’s college tuition fees, making his mortgage payments, and worrying if he will have enough money for retirement. And, he is a former police officer and his past police officer combat skills as well as his former police colleagues, plays a large role in the subsequent events in this movie.
Michael’s daily routine also involves riding the train, and because he does this every day at the same time, he is known to his fellow commuters and train personnel and also to our protagonist; Joanna played by Vera Farmiga. Largely Michael’s days are uneventful, he talks to clients, catches the train to and fro at the same time every day until Michael (Liam) arrives one day at work to find out he has lost his job. Not good, he has 2 mortgages as a result of taking a financial loss in 2008, and his son wants to go to college in the fall. Off he goes to the bar to meet a friend who is a former colleague of his; Detective Alex Murphy from his police officer days.
Dejected, he takes the commuter train home and once finding a seat, he is approached by Joanne who sits down and asks him to do a simple request, which is to locate a bag containing money, then locate a passenger named Prynne and place a GPS on Prynne’s carry-on bag. Why Prynne is important is revealed later in the movie. Remember that not talking to stranger’s advice? Ah well, if he had done that we wouldn’t have this movie. Anyhow, Joanne’s request seems innocuous enough and the performance of this task does involve a financial reward, rather timely given his recent layoff from work.
Joanne leaves the train and then the fun begins. Locating a person when you don’t know what gender they are, and don’t know any distinguishing characteristic other than they have a carry-on bag, is rather a daunting task. And one that has a time component, as Michael must find this passenger before the last stop on the line. As he has picked up the bag of money, he cannot refuse to back out of this task and if he does, Joanna threatens harm to his family if he is not successful. The pressure is on which is exacerbated by Joanna’s frequent threatening cell phone calls to Michael.
The movie is a fairly suspenseful one; it has lots of action where Michael displays his former police officer combat skills, and there were a few times when I had to hold my breath. There was a scene of hanging under the carriage of the train while it was moving, numerous gun fights, red herrings as ascertaining exactly who is Prynne, a train wreck, combat scenes involving various weapons, and double crossing by one of the characters. In the end the movie has a good ending but arrives there only after you have been on the edge of your seat more than a few times.