Articles:The Commuter: “The Tension cranks up at every stop,” says Liam Neeson




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by Samantha Ofole-Prince

Liam Neeson in The Commuter

Destined to satisfy any thrill junkie, “The Commuter” reunites director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson for a fourth time. The duo, who previously worked together on “Unknown,” “Non-Stop,” and “Run All Night” are back again for another thrill ride, this time it’s on a train in New York.

Joanna (Vera Farmiga) and Michael (Liam Neeson). Photo Credit Jay Maidment

The story centers on Michael MacCauley (Neeson), a former cop and a now mid-level manager at a faceless insurance company, who lives with his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) and son (Dean-Charles Chapman) outside of New York City. Like so many hard-working family men, he is facing a financial breaking point, trying to make ends meet on a paycheck that is stretched thin and a son who is about to go to college. Michael’s situation worsens when he is unexpectedly fired and on his commute home, he meets Joanna (Vera Farmiga) a passenger who presents him with a lucrative proposition: find a passenger on-board the train who doesn’t belong, in return for a handsome financial reward.

An ex-cop, he is initially suspicious, but once he eventually agrees to find the “suspect” amongst the sea of passengers, he soon realizes that he is at the center of a deadly conspiracy that only he can stop.

Liam Neeson stars as Michael. Photo Credit Jay Maidment

“The story almost plays in real time,” shares Neeson. “The main character realizes what he’s set in motion; and sets out to identify the person that holds the key to the conspiracy. The tension cranks up at every stop as new passengers get on, and another clue is left for him. The danger gradually gets greater and greater and the film becomes this really fast-paced psychological thriller along the lines of a Hitchcock‘s Strangers on a Train or North by Northwest."

Collet-Serra brilliantly sets up the opening scenes with a fluid introduction of his main character Michael, who we see day in and day out commuting to a dead-end job. With repeated scenes reminiscent of the film “Groundhog Day,” Michael wakes up at 6am each day, has breakfast with his family before beginning an arduous commute to the inner city. It’s a mundane routine he has done for the past 10 years and it’s that everyman quality of the lead character that appealed to Neeson, who knew it would also appeal to the audience.

“Michael has been taking the same train for 10 years, five days a week, and then one day he is fired,” says the actor. “He doesn't know how to tell his wife, and he's double-mortgaged on his house. After having a drink in the local bar with an ex-cop friend of his, he takes the commuter train back to face the music. On the train, a mysterious person sits beside him and asks, ‘Would you do one tiny, little thing for $100,000?’”

Pictured - Jaume Collet-Serra (Director), Patrick Wilson, Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga.
Photo by Marion Curtis

Supporting Neeson’s character is an ensemble cast made up of a diverse array of international actors, who Michael is forced to trust from British actor Colin McFarlane, the train’s conductor, Walt (Jonathan Banks) to Tony (Andy Nyman), a regular commuter who lends Michael his phone.

Loaded with thrills and suspense, the film is almost entirely set on a moving train and has a frenetic and high tensioned feel to it that will keep you undoubtedly pinned to your seat the whole way through. A pure thrill ride, it’s a well-staged action flick with strong performances and great direction -- elements certainly enough to make it a superior action movie.

“The Commuter” is out in theaters. Check out the trailer below:

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