Liam Neeson gets taken for a ride in 'The Commuter'

Liam Neeson tries blending his "Taken" killing machine with being a 60-year-old everyman in "The Commuter," a procedu...

Posted: Jan 11, 2018 2:10 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2018 2:10 PM

Liam Neeson tries blending his "Taken" killing machine with being a 60-year-old everyman in "The Commuter," a procedure that doesn't entirely work. Nevertheless, the actor's appeal mostly powers through this check-your-brain-at-the-door thriller, without qualifying as a trip that requires rushing to catch it on a theatrical platform.

Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an insurance salesman who has dutifully boarded the train to his office gig for the last decade, leaving his wife (Elizabeth McGovern, although blink and you'll miss her) and college-bound son behind.

MacCauley is headed home when he's presented with an offer by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga), who promises him $100,000 -- which will come in handy, given that he's just been rather abruptly laid off -- if he'll identify and tag a tracker on a passenger aboard the train, no questions asked.

Despite meeting a stranger on a train, MacCauley isn't exactly your standard Hitchcockian ordinary bloke, inasmuch as he was a cop, we're told, before he decided to switch careers. As luck would have it, like riding a bicycle, those skills -- while not quite as special as the ones to which "Taken" fans became accustomed -- are quickly put to use as he schleps between cars, simultaneously trying to find the mystery passenger and discover a way out of his predicament.

Working from a script credited to a trio of writers, director Jaume Collet-Serra -- steering his fourth collaboration with Neeson, including "Unknown" and "Non-Stop" -- struggles a bit to overcome the slightly claustrophobic nature of the action. The stakes, meanwhile, gradually build, with their plausibility ebbing accordingly.

There are, in fact, a few fairly risible moments, especially one near the end that's such a direct homage to an epic classic as to practically border on parody.

Neeson, however, brings such earnestness to these roles that he somehow sells them -- initially as a family man reluctantly thrust into a perilous situation, and then as a can-do warrior battling the shadowy forces arrayed against him.

The movie proves more of a letdown for the other actors who board this fast-moving yarn, leaving little to do for the more recognizable faces on the train (Jonathan Banks) as well as those who aren't (McGovern, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill).

Even with its conspicuous bumps, by the time it's over "The Commuter" delivers on a basic level, in what feels like a throwback to old-style, low-octane thrillers. By the end of the line, Neeson again proves that nabbing a ticket when he's involved seldom makes for a bad ride, even when, as in this case, it's kind of a simple-minded one.

"The Commuter" opens Jan. 12 in the U.S. It's rated PG-13.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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