Liam Neeson is all aboard The Commuter in exclusive teaser trailer

Liam Neeson is all aboard The Commuter in exclusive teaser trailer

Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, a NYPD cop who trades in his badge for a second career as an insurance salesman after the 2008 financial crisis wipes out family's savings.

It becomes clear that Mike really has no choice, as he learns that his wife and son (Elizabeth McGovern and Dean-Charles Chapman) are being held hostage as leverage, and will be killed if he doesn't comply. 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. On this particular day, Michael is unceremoniously fired, five years from retirement, no severance, with his mortgage due and his kid imminently departing for a pricey private college. It also stars Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, and Sam Neill.

A stranger on the train, played by, makes Michael an offer. Check your brain at the door and have a great time at this one. It doesn't help matters that the mysterious woman always has someone watching him, any attempt at subverting her plans resulting in deadly consequences for someone on the train, and she may or may not have had Michael's family kidnapped.

"Is this still a hypothetical?" he asks, understanding that it isn't.

Like Non-Stop, The Commuter is not without its flaws. The chatty traveller poses what Michael thinks is initially a hypothetical question: in exchange for a large amount of cash hidden in a washroom, would he track down a specific passenger on the same train and place a tracking device on the bag.

"And that's something they do for me because they feel it's what's right and fair", she said. The screenplay provided by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, and Ryan Engle is something of a hodgepodge of been-there-done-that ideas. Nearly every film in Neeson's action career has been focused on a family patriarch, down on his luck but not without his particular sets of skills, protecting his family from a threat to their lives or safety in a bid to prove that even as he sets on in years that he's still capable of being a beacon of masculine stability for his family unit.

Apparently, a pay cut in the name of closing the wage gap isn't going "too far" for some actors in Hollywood. (Heck, Joanna all but uses that phrase when telling Michael why he was picked for this task.) The actor breaks no new ground here, but he remains very enjoyable to watch. This isn't to say that the humans in The Commuter act anything like real people; the train is the most realistic performer here, but you could do a lot worse. She and Neeson are quite interesting together in the early scene on the train, and we are left wanting much more of that. This isn't to say it's a good movie -- it isn't!

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Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra has carved out a nice niche for himself as a purveyor of elegantly crafted schlock.

If The Commuter sounds like a riff on Neeson's airplane-set Non-Stop, that's probably because Neeson previously collaborated with Serra on that equally implausible and paranoid thriller. The latter would be more effective if we gave a rip about the former.

The Commuter is the latest of such pieces of Dad Cinema, and though it has a strikingly dumb story to tell, it achieves its primary goal of being a delightful action romp.

It may not be just the ticket, but, derailment and all, it's a smooth-enough journey.

"The Commuter", a Lionsgate release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "some intense action/violence, and language".

Runtime: 1 hour, 45 minutes.

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