Liam Neeson and Vera Farmiga in THE COMMUTER

Jaume Collet-Serra formulaic thriller THE COMMUTER boasts enough twists and turns to keep you entertained

Following NON-STOP in 2014 and RUN ALL NIGHT in 2015, Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra returns with his third instalment in his planes, trains and automobile action trilogy, THE COMMUTER.

THE COMMUTER follows Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson), an insurance salesman who takes the train every day into the city for work. After being let go from his job at age 60, Michael is approached by a mysterious woman called Joanna (Vera Farmiga) on his journey home. Joanna presents Michael with a dilemma, would he be willing to seek out someone who doesn’t belong on the train and place a GPS tracker in their bag in return for $100,000? Desperate for money, Michael takes the offer but is soon dragged into a deadly game of deceit where he’s unable to trust anyone and any attempts to seek help will put his family in danger.

Resembling Collet-Serra’s previous film NON-STOP, THE COMMUTER is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that starts off well. The central mystery is intriguing enough to drive the action forward and there are plenty of little twists and turns, as well as a few moments of tension to keep the interest high. Add in a handful of interesting characters, as well as some comic relief from train conductors Colin McFarlane and Adam Nagaitis and THE COMMUTER seems to plod along nicely.

But as THE COMMUTER heads towards its finale, it suddenly starts to completely derail. Everything that worked previously (the central mystery, the action and the suspense), suddenly vanishes in a flash with Collet-Serra opting to follow the film’s splashy CGI action crescendo and an increasingly convoluted plot that gets more ridiculous and far fetched by the minute.

Where THE COMMUTER goes awry is in keeping Michael and the audience in the dark for so long. While the suspense and uncertainty is amped up at the start, it loses its momentum by the third act to allow the conspiracies and double-crosses to be explained. The dialogue is also full of action/thriller movie clichés which spoils the overall fun and suspense of the piece.

That said, there is some impressive camera work from Collet-Serra, who brings his own visual verve to the hand-to-hand fights scenes. There is also some solid performances from the cast, most notably Neeson and Farmiga, as well as Patrick Wilson, Sam Neil, and Jonathan Banks who all do their best with the serviceable script.

While THE COMMUTER may lack the sophistication and fun of Neeson’s previous outings, this formulaic thriller boasts enough twists and turns to keep you entertained.

3 out of 5 stars

THE COMMUTER is released in UK cinemas on 19 January 2018.