The Commuter

The Commuter

2018, PG-13, 104 min. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Jan. 12, 2018

If Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train taught us anything, it’s to never engage in hypotheticals. Yet down-on-his-luck insurance agent Michael MacCauley (Neeson) commits that error when a fellow commuter line passenger called Joanna (Farmiga) sits down and poses a question: If he could do one tiny thing, one insignificant act, that would change another person’s life but have no consequence for him, would he do it? Actually, the consequence is that he would get $100,000, which MacCauley desperately needs since he just got fired and his son is heading to college. Of course, the theoretical is real, as he is challenged to hunt down that mysterious person before the train reaches its destination: a seemingly impossible task, but then he is an ex-cop.

That seems a plausibility-stretching coincidence, but nothing is by accident in the first produced script by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi. It’s fitting that Neeson reunites with director Collet-Serra for this, as the pair last worked together on 2011’s equally implausible identity switch thriller Unknown: Fortunately, Collet-Serra knows how to keep this kind of material on the rails. He sticks rigorously to the central conceit of a real-time trip from New York’s Grand Central Station, out along the Metro-North line to suburban Cold Spring (he even gets the departure time and trip duration pretty much spot on), and that central sealed bottle sequence is by far the most fun element. An increasingly desperate but focused MacCauley whittles down the train full of suspects with some surprisingly elegant solutions, as all the while the stakes rise.

But there’s a squeaking wheel that just gets more distracting, as the coincidences and seeming godlike foresight of Joanna’s unseen bosses become an increasing strain on credulity. Even as the final act ramps up, the action seems to lose steam, and the torrent of red herrings and obvious dead ends just blocks the tracks.

The Commuter is exactly the kind of post-Taken aging-action-star part that Neeson could do in his sleep, and while he’s not exactly dozing through the script, it lacks his normal grizzled fire and drive. In part, that’s because ex-cop MacCauley has had the life beaten out of him by the corporate life (watch for a not-so-subtle, and very literal, middle finger to Goldman Sachs). But it’s also that we’ve seen this Neeson so many times before (Innocuous-looking ordinary guy with a particular set of skills? Check. Family in peril? Check. Hard-slugging fist fights? Check). Taken reinvented the respected actor as a more mature tough guy. Maybe it’s just time for another reinvention.

Showtimes

Wed., Jan. 17

10:50am, 2:05, 5:10, 8:10, 11:30

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Wed., Jan. 17

11:30am, 2:20, 5:20, 8:15, 11:00

Wed., Jan. 17

1:00, 4:00, 6:50, 9:45

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Wed., Jan. 17

Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime;Recliners;Reserved Seating 2:20, 5:00, 7:50
recliners, reserved seating 2:20, 5:00, 7:50

Thu., Jan. 18

Dolby Cinema at AMC Prime;Recliners;Reserved Seating 2:20, 5:00, 7:50
recliners, reserved seating 2:20, 5:00, 7:50

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Wed., Jan. 17

D-Box 1:35, 4:25, 7:20, 10:05
D-Box, luxury lounger 1:35, 4:25, 7:20, 10:05
digital 1:35, 4:25, 7:20, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 1:35, 4:25, 7:20, 10:05

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Wed., Jan. 17

digital 1:30, 4:10, 7:10, 10:00
digital, luxury lounger 1:30, 4:10, 7:10, 10:00

Thu., Jan. 18

digital 1:30, 4:10, 7:10, 10:00
digital, luxury lounger 1:30, 4:10, 7:10, 10:00

Wed., Jan. 17

digital 11:05am, 1:55, 4:40, 7:25, 10:20
digital, luxury lounger 11:05am, 1:55, 4:40, 7:25, 10:20

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Wed., Jan. 17

digital 11:00am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:05, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 11:00am, 1:45, 4:30, 7:05, 9:50

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Jan. 17

digital 1:35, 4:15, 6:55, 9:35
digital, luxury lounger 1:35, 4:15, 6:55, 9:35

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Wed., Jan. 17

1:25, 4:25, 7:30, 10:15

Thu., Jan. 18

1:25, 4:25, 7:30, 10:15

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Wed., Jan. 17

11:30am, 2:10, 4:45, 7:30, 10:15

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Wed., Jan. 17

CC 12:40, 3:30, 6:30, 10:15

Thu., Jan. 18

CC 12:40, 3:30, 6:30, 10:15

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Wed., Jan. 17

CC/DL/HI 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45
ClosedCap;DescListen;HI 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45
D-Box 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45

Thu., Jan. 18

CC/DL/HI 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45
ClosedCap;DescListen;HI 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45
D-Box 12:00, 2:20, 4:40, 7:10, 9:45

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Jan. 17

CC/DVS 1:00, 1:00, 4:00, 4:00, 7:00, 7:00, 10:00, 10:00
CC/DVS 1:00, 1:00, 4:00, 4:00, 7:00, 7:00, 10:00, 10:00

Thu., Jan. 18

CC/DVS 1:00, 1:00, 4:00, 4:00, 7:00, 7:00, 10:00, 10:00
CC/DVS 1:00, 1:00, 4:00, 4:00, 7:00, 7:00, 10:00, 10:00

Hometown Cinemas

120 MLK Jr. Industrial Blvd. W, Lockhart, 512/398-4100, www.hometowncinemas.com

Wed., Jan. 17

11:50am, 2:15, 4:30, 7:20

Thu., Jan. 18

11:50am, 2:15, 4:30, 7:20

iPic Theaters Austin

3225 Amy Donovan Plaza, 512/568-3400, www.ipic.com

Wed., Jan. 17

1:15, 4:15, 7:15, 10:45

Thu., Jan. 18

1:45, 4:45, 7:45, 11:15

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Jan. 17

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:00, 4:50, 7:40, 10:30

Thu., Jan. 18

CC/DVS 12:10, 2:00, 4:50, 7:40, 10:30

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/austin/

Wed., Jan. 17

1:25, 4:15, 7:05, 10:00

Thu., Jan. 18

1:25, 4:15, 7:05, 10:00

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Wed., Jan. 17

10:40am, 1:40, 4:25, 7:15, 10:10

Thu., Jan. 18

10:40am, 1:40, 4:25, 7:15, 10:10

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Wed., Jan. 17

2:00, 4:50, 7:20

Thu., Jan. 18

2:00, 4:50, 7:10

Wed., Jan. 17

12:20, 3:35, 7:45, 10:40

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Wed., Jan. 17

11:30am, 2:10, 4:45, 7:30, 10:15

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar Blvd, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Jan. 17

CC/DVS 11:00am, 12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30, 10:00

Thu., Jan. 18

CC/DVS 10:30am, 12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30, 10:00

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READ MORE
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Liam Neeson reunites with his Unknown and Non-Stop director for another action ride

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Cinema chain takes new direction after public outcry

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Commuter, Jaume Collet-Serra, Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern, Sam Neill

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