In Taken, he had a very particular set of skills, which he used to murderous effect on Albanian pimps in Istanbul. In Non-Stop, he wasn’t a good father, he wasn’t a good man, but he wasn’t hijacking this plane!
By Debbie Stowe
I write, of course, of Liam Neeson. Having capably picked up the baton of “mature action hero whose family is in peril” from Harrison Ford about ten years ago, the Irishman shows no sign of running out of steam (see what I did there?) with this train-based thriller.
DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra
STARRING: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Elizabeth McGovern
ON AT: Movieplex Cinema, Grand Cinema & More, Happy Cinema, Cine Globe Titan, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, Cinema City Mega Mall, 0T IMAX®
A stylishly conceived opening sequence reveals the rhythms of insurance salesman Michael MacCauley’s (Neeson) life: throughout the seasons we see him support his son’s studies, discuss money worries with his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and travel in and out of the city to work.
So far, so mundane, until one day he encounters an attractive stranger on the train (Vera Farmiga). From Hitchcock to Derailed with Jennifer Aniston, Strangers on Trains in movies spell trouble. Don’t go there, Michael! Needless to say, he goes there, and action thrills ensue.
I won’t reveal the plot point that sets events in motion, because (a) it would be a spoiler, (b) it’s utterly ludicrous, (c) it’s irrelevant; just accept that there are bad guys out there and Liam Neeson has to stop them, and (d) I can barely remember what it was anyway.
Like Non-Stop, his airborne vehicle, The Commuter benefits from the claustrophobic atmosphere of an enclosed space, which we know contains the villain. But whodunit? Or who is doing it? And what are they doing? As with Agatha Christie, guessing is part of the fun.
As well as rehashing Non-Stop by simply switching the form of transport, director Jaume Collet-Serra’s film borrows from, or at least recalls, a bunch of other recent movies, from rail-based mysteries Murder on the Orient Express and The Girl on the Train to most of Neeson’s recent output.
It also rests on a criminal conspiracy so convoluted that it doesn’t just stretch credibility, it throws it out of the window altogether.
None of this matters, of course, because: Liam Neeson! On a train! Hurray! Sit back and enjoy the ride.