Liam Neeson's Brutally Honest Take On The Wage Gap In Hollywood

Liam Neeson and Vera Farmiga in “The Commuter.”

It's not going to launch a catchphrase and a series of movies like "Taken", but it has all of the elements that you want - Liam Neeson as an old dude with incredible skills, frantically trying to solve a mystery and beating the tar out of some baddies in the process. This is the fourth time they have worked together after Unknown, Run All Night and Non-Stop.

"'I'm 60 years old!"

Michael MacCauley (Neeson) is an ex-cop who just lost his job as an insurance salesman, leaving his family in dire financial straits. In particular, Collet-Serra appreciates that a train is a mass transport most conducive to suspense, and he duly exploits the mechanics of the setting, even while freshening the clichés, such as desperate hand-to-hand combat in the confines of a train auto, with impressive visual effects.

It's the afternoon of Michael's employment termination that his everyday routine gets shaken up even more so. If MacCauley can identify a passenger who, as Joanna describes "does not belong", he will be rewarded with $100,000 cash. While there, a mysterious woman offers him a lot of money to find an unidentified passenger on the train. It becomes a race against time for the one-time officer of the law to sort out the mystery on the train, save his family from an uncertain fate, and punch a few people in the head for good measure.

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If there's a gripe worth holding against the film it's that Collet-Serra is already repeating his greatest hits with Neeson, lifting Non-Stop's "search for the culprit" structure, the only difference being that in The Commuter the culprit isn't actually guilty of a crime. One particular fight on board the confinement of the train is particularly well-shot, Collet-Serra letting it play out in a seemingly endless single shot that amps up the intensity. What has followed has been a decade of lean, blunt and glum thrillers (three "Taken" movies, "Non-Stop", "The Grey") anchored by the looming and still quite potent presence of Neeson. But that's not to deny the transient pleasures of "The Commuter", a film that enthusiastically puts the humble passenger auto through nearly as many mechanical acrobatics as any "Fast and Furious" hot rod, in the process gifting us with the line, "Between the train and the people, I always knew it would be the train". It has come to the point where the star could sleepwalk through thin action films such as this, but his attempt at drama and even emotion adds to the performance even if it seems out of place for the film.

"We started it", he says.

Apparently, a pay cut in the name of closing the wage gap isn't going "too far" for some actors in Hollywood. Random red herrings and Dan Brown-level literary riddles are the order of the day as the literal end of the line approaches; Neeson, his brow dutifully furrowed, musters what gravelly authority he can as he profiles a motley crew of other commuters - a classily cast bunch ranging from Jonathan Banks to "Lady Macbeth" breakout Florence Pugh - for clues. That line might be the most true-to-life element in the whole film. Still, The Commuter gives fans of B-level entertainment exactly what they want, and it's hard to fault any film that does that.

But don't go looking for some dramatic, cinematic reveal.

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