Culture&Arts

Liam Neeson is all aboard The Commuter in exclusive teaser trailer

Liam Neeson is all aboard The Commuter in exclusive teaser trailer

Then call it something vague like The Commuter. It's nearly hard to remember that when the trailers first started to hit for Taken years ago that the "gimmick" there was that it was unexpected for the dude who played Oskar Schindler to be doing what at the time we mostly called "Jason Statham movies" ...and now it's his main thing.

There has, thus far, been a pleasing interchangeability to the titles in the banging, clattering action oeuvre cultivated by Liam Neeson and Spanish genre maestro Jaume Collet-Serra.

For starters, it nearly seems like a parody of a modern day Neeson movie, which has become a genre unto itself. Nothing lets the air out of a crowded theater like a self-serious potboiler, much less a self-serious potboiler needlessly wound into knots. In total this marks the fourth collaboration between the star and director (which also includes the decent Run All Night and the mediocre Unknown). Really, he's a veteran ex-cop who hops the commuter train into the city each day to work a thankless job hawking insurance, but he puts on an average Joe face in public, whether to his clients, to his family or to his fellow commuters. While on the ride home on the commuter train, he is approached by a unusual woman who proposes a hypothetical: if he could track down one person on the train who doesn't seem to belong and identify them with a Global Positioning System tracking device, would he do so with the promise of a $100,000 reward, regardless of the unknown consequences to the identified party? On his way home on a particularly bad day, he meets Joanna (Vera Farmiga), who offers him $100,000 if he will find a passenger who doesn't belong on the train and plant a Global Positioning System tracker on the person's bag. It's an unnecessary spectacle, as is only proven by how much more hair-raising the first half of the film is when it's just Liam Neeson in, on, and around a train, utilizing everything he can in order to stay alive.

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Still, it's hard to deny the suspense delivered when it comes to watching Liam Neeson being a badass. The Commuter knows how to take advantage of its setting and distinguish itself from its predecessors in the process. "It gives the audience the same experience as Non-Stop, but with different characters". The McCauleys lost their savings in that cluster. This is a disaster for Michael, who's five years from retirement and is about to send Danny off to college - adding to the family's already-tight finances. He needs the money. If you're director Christopher Nolan, you get Neeson for your movie because you're done with people thinking about Adam West and George Clooney's nipples when you think of Batman.

And Collet-Serra's direction is a mixed bag. He only pays off the reference by having Michael flip off an asshole stockbroker riding the train with him, openly disdainful of taking public transportation. AKA, no one's expecting this to be a masterpiece, and it's not. "I love working with Liam". Perhaps it's a level of nostalgia for the "good ole" days of John Wayne still standing tall despite his age or maybe it's that Collet-Serra thinks that now more than ever we need to be making a statement about what true heroism looks like in 2018.

Right? Contained location, finite characters, ticking clock, sort-of relatable motivation and a clever extra twist on the typical detective story since he's technically trying to solve THREE mysteries. Regardless of whether he knows it, he has just committed to the job: finding a passenger aboard the train - with little information to go on - and placing a Global Positioning System device on him or her that will allow Joanna's associates to track the mark. If Heath Ledger didn't change everything as The Joker, we'd be calling Neeson's Ra's al Ghul one of the best supervillains of all time.


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