Liam Neeson Adds Waze Voice Navigation to Very Particular Set of Skills


Liam Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an ex-cop turned insurance salesman with a wife at home and a son who's getting ready to enter college. The pair has since tried their hand at something a little more high-minded with the dramatic crime thriller Run All Night, but The Commuter has much more in common with their 2014 murder mystery Non-Stop.

The film doesn't gain much traction from its familiar claustrophobic setting aboard a crowded train, nor does it take much time to ponder the moral complexity inherent in its thin ticking-clock premise.

On the day he's laid off from his job, he's approached by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) who makes him a mysterious offer: identify the rider on the train named "Prynne" and slip a Global Positioning System on their person, and collect $100,000 for his efforts. "I'm like: 'Guys, I'm sixty-f******-five.' Audiences are eventually going to go: 'Come on, '" said Neeson. 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.

The screenplay (credited to Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle) is engaging but at times convoluted in its logistics, especially after the crystalline simplicity of Collet-Serra's shark-versus-girl number The Shallows (2016). The movie also incorporates some stylistic flourishes (sped up motion, sequence shots seemingly created in post-production) in these scenes, to further spice things up. Vera Farmiga is by far the best part of the film and she's has less than 10 minutes of screen time.

Collet-Serra is known for infusing his B-grade movies with slick production values, and that remains the case with The Commuter.

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With that in mind, consider the plight of poor Liam Neeson, hunky sexagenarian from Northern Ireland, who has oddly morphed into a well-aged action hero over the last decade. The director typically makes good use of the environments in his films, be it the inescapable inside of the airplane from Non-Stop or the attractive and isolated beach in The Shallows. Working with cinematographer Paul Cameron (Collateral, Dead Man Down), Collet-Serra stylishly maps out the internal layout of the film's central set piece and keeps things visually engaging, in spite of the unchanging foreground scenery.

Every morning at 6, Michael awakes in his home in Tarrytown, N.Y., to the sounds of all-news NY radio station 1010 Wins, checks to make sure his high school senior son (Dean-Charles Chapman) is up and at 'em, and gets a ride to the train station from his loving wife (Elizabeth McGovern).

The Commuter is out in theaters on Friday, Jan. 12.

Asked if he would take a pay cut, he responded: "No - pay cut!"

The Commuter begins playing in US theaters nationwide tonight. We, as men, have got to be part of it, you know?