Saturday, April 21, 2018

Breaking Hiatus: The Commuter

2018, Jaume Collet-Serra (Run All Night) -- download

The other day, I was thinking I want to get back into writing about movies; again not explicitly reviewing movies, but returning to whatever I was doing here. Then, the other morning, Jason K blogged about blogging and THAT was what I wanted to return to. But no, I cannot resurrect again, as I already did (as a photoblog) and it is already on hiatus itself. BUT, I can return to blogging about movies, as I watch them, with no requirement of format or length or requirement.

That should make it easier, right? So says my lazy lizard brain.

The Commuter is the latest Liam Neeson movie from French director Jaume Collet-Serra. Without trying to, I have seen all of his movies, so I guess that puts him in my wheelhouse. My favourites were The Shallows and Run All Night. But including this new one, his three Neeson movies are of a certain style, where a man is forced by plot circumstances to become involved in something more violent than he ever intended.

This movie begins with a commentary on aging, particularly the aging action star, that cannot be anything but intentional. Michael MacCauley 62, laid off from his insurance job after 10 faithful years. That means he started that job at 52, and hoped to ride it out till retirement. He had his kids in his mid 40s, and chose a life commuting to and from the suburbs over whatever he was doing before. In a great opening sequence, we are given a collage of what makes the title of the movie, his commute to NYC and back each day on a crowded train where he is one of the regulars.

On the day he is laid off, he has had a few beers with an old friend, and we find out MacCauley is an ex-cop. He is returning to his home, where he will have to tell his wife (and their college age kids) that life is about to collapse. But he is approached by a lovely young woman (Vera Farmiga) with an offer. Use his cop skills to find someone on the train who doesn't belong, tag them, and make $100k.

Of course, its never that simple. Things escalate towards a conspiracy of murder and corruption and a desire to kill the person he is supposed to tag. But he is a man of principle and does his best to derail their plan. Despite the danger to himself and his family, he has to do what is right.

Its fun to watch Neeson in the gray years of his life play the leading action hero, but not in the cocky, shout into the future way that someone like Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone does. Liam bears his age well, but it shows on him. The visceral fight scenes have him pummeled and bounced about in a dance of violence, where it is not his strength that wins, but wisdom (skill learned through time) and willpower winning out. While the movie does do a bit of spiraling out into ridiculous (big action needs big sequences), I cannot help but like the movie.

The finale shows an interest in making this movie into a series. Not Taken style where he repeats the same plot over and over, but one where an aged cop foils the plots of the bad guys. I doubt it will go that way, but its fun to think of such while Liam is around to foster it.