Liam Neeson is a man with a very particular set of skills… and he keeps finding himself in situations that make perfect use of said skills to save his family. This time, he’s on a train! Today we are going to take a look at The Commuter on 4K UHD from Lionsgate.
The Commuter came and went from theaters pretty quickly it seemed. I remember hearing that Liam Neeson would be doing a new action film that takes place on a train but didn’t even get a chance to see the trailer until it was already out of theaters. This isn’t to say that it bombed or anything like that. According to IMDB, it made more than its estimated $30 million dollar budget back in the box office and $120 million worldwide, which goes to show you that people are still interested in watching Neeson kick some ass.
Neeson isn’t the only big name in the film either, I was actually really surprised at the cast in this movie, which includes Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson (from The Conjuring series, back together), Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad), and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), making up quite the ensemble.
At the helm is Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who you probably don’t know by name, but will know from his work on other Neeson-led films such as Run all Night, Non-Stop, and Unknown. He’s also responsible for The Shallows, Orphan, and House of Wax, which is quite the mix. Oh, and he also does an Enrique Iglesias short called Esperanza. The dude has a pretty interesting body of work. In my opinion, The Commuter is definitely one of his better films, but that might not be saying a whole lot when you are comparing to House of Wax.
Liam Neeson plays a former cop who just got fired from his insurance salesman job. On the commuter train home from this self-esteem crushing event, he is approached by an attractive younger woman. She presents to him the hypothetical question of what he would do if he was offered a large amount of money to point out a person who doesn’t belong on the train, before it reaches a certain stop. What will happen to this person once they are discovered is not for him to know, but it most likely won’t be good.
Well, it turns out that this hypothetical question wasn’t so hypothetical at all. He quickly finds himself with a packet of cash in his pocket and a looming threat on his family if he doesn’t find this person. So what does he do? He uses his set of skills to work in finding the missing person. This might sound a bit rote, and it definitely ends up being the cliche Liam Neeson role of gruff ex-cop forced to do illegal things to get out of a bind and save his family. But hell, it’s worked in the past and works pretty well here.
The movie has a one hour and forty-five-minute runtime, and over the course of this time Neeson’s character gets more and more stressed and ends up going to some extreme lengths to find this person. The irony of it all is that in trying to find the suspicious passenger, he ends up becoming just that. This ends up being the more enjoyable part the film for me because they did a good job of establishing his descent into near panic as time runs out.
Then there’s a turn of events where a particular catastrophic accident occurs, and that is where your suspension of disbelief gets a check. Some people will probably not be bothered by some of the action that takes place. For me, it was a bit much and took an otherwise completely believable scenario into a bit of an action-film trope. However, this scene is thankfully quite short. This particular scene isn’t actually any more unbelievable than almost any other scene in any other movie, but I think that the movie otherwise sits firmly in the believable-yet-fantastic drama realm leading up to it, making it feel a bit out of place.
In the end, this movie is another in a fairly long line of films where Liam Neeson does Liam Neeson things with his particular set of Liam Neeson skills. If you love those movies and like seeing him be awesome as he always is, this will sit nicely on the shelf with the others. If you were hoping for a renaissance or rebirth of the actor, this is not it.
As for the visuals and audio, The Commuter is definitely worthy of the 4K UHD release. Shot digitally, the movie looks fantastic, even in low light scenes. This film does have a fairly dark overtone, so HDR is not as vibrant here, but that is a design call and not a defect. There are a few bits of questionably realistic CGI, but otherwise, this movie looks quite good on UHD – especially in scenes with a lot of textures on display, such as the passengers on the train.
The UHD release has the same Dolby Atmos audio track that the regular Blu-ray release received, and it is very, very exciting throughout. The train provides a lot of ambient noise and gives a sense of you really being on the train. All surround channels are used well, and if you have up-firing or ceiling mounted speakers, you will be in for quite a treat, as there are a few scenes that utilize that sound space exceptionally well.
Sadly, there just isn’t very much in the way of special features for this release. Both of these features are included on the Blu-ray release as well:
- End of the Line: a short clip with cast and crew talking about the film.
- Off the Rails: pretty similar to End of the Line, but focuses a bit more on filming on a train
The Commuter 4K UHD Final Thoughts:
The thing about Liam Neeson is that if you love him, you love him. This movie might be another in a long line of films where he is largely playing the same character, but the premise is entertaining and he continues to be pretty awesome in his role. I would suggest this one to fans of Neeson’s work. Otherwise, wait for it to go on sale for a decent price and consider scooping it up for the immersive audio track. You can pick The Commuter up from Amazon or just about any other movie retailer.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.