The Commuter (film)
The Commuter is a 2018 action thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle. The film stars Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, and Sam Neill. It follows a man who is unwittingly recruited into a murder conspiracy after meeting a mysterious woman while on his daily train commute.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jaume Collet-Serra|
|Music by||Roque Baños|
|Edited by||Nicolas de Toth|
|Box office||$119.9 million|
The film premiered in New York City on January 8, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on January 12, 2018, by Lionsgate, and on January 19, 2018 in the United Kingdom by StudioCanal; it had a select IMAX release. The film grossed $119 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, who called it similar to Neeson and Collet-Serra's previous film, Non-Stop, but praised Neeson's performance and the genre thrills.
Michael MacCauley, an Irish-American NYPD member turned insurance agent, has a wife and teenaged son. He goes through the same routine train commute to work and back every day, taking the Hudson Line from Tarrytown to Grand Central Terminal, often interacting with the same other commuters. His daily routine is interrupted when he is abruptly laid off from his job after a decade at the same company due to budget cuts, leading him to wonder how he will pay his mortgage or afford his son's college tuition. Choosing not to immediately reveal his dismissal to his family, he instead confides in Murphy, his ex-partner on the force, while he and Murphy's unit are at a bar.
On the train home, Michael meets a mysterious woman named Joanna, who makes small talk with him. Joanna describes herself as an academic who studies human behavior and tells him there are 16 distinct types of personalities. She proposes a hypothetical situation to Michael, asking him to do one little thing that he is uniquely skilled for, the results of which would have consequences that he would know nothing about, but would affect one of the passengers on the train. Joanna's one little thing that she wants Michael to do is locate "Prynne," the alias of an unknown passenger, who she says doesn't belong and has something stolen. Joanna proceeds to tell him that he will find $25,000 in the bathroom and will be paid another $75,000 when the job is done. Michael starts to question whether this is real or hypothetical, and Joanna, before she gets off the train, alludes to him being a former cop. Out of curiosity, Michael searches the bathroom and finds an envelope with $25,000.
He attempts to leave the train but is stopped by a young woman who hands him another envelope with Michael's wife's wedding ring, and tells him it's a warning. Michael attempts to call his wife but with no response. Michael attempts to warn a fellow passenger of what is going on by writing on his newspaper. Michael leaves a voicemail describing the situation to Murphy, and then receives a call from Joanna, threatening him and his family. She tells him that the train is rigged with hidden cameras, and to look outside, where he sees the passenger to whom he gave the newspaper being deliberately pushed in front of a bus and killed by an accomplice. Joanna then points him to a GPS tracker in his jacket and orders him to plant it on Prynne.
Michael gives a fake report of suspicious behavior to a conductor, who announces he plans to search a woman's bag. A man immediately leaves the car and Michael follows him, at which point he attacks Michael. They fight and Michael plants the GPS tracker on him. Murphy calls back and informs him that Prynne is a key witness in a supposed suicide case of a man at the city planner's office, Enrique Mendez, leading Michael to realize that Prynne will be killed and that Michael is being set up.
In a deserted carriage, Michael discovers the body of the man he planted the GPS tracker on and a badge revealing he was an FBI agent. He is then contacted by Joanna and chastised for marking the wrong person, before warning him that another passenger has reported his suspicious activities on the train to police, who stop the train to investigate. Michael manages to evade detection by hiding with the corpse under the carriage, but in the process accidentally tears his bag and loses the 25,000 dollars. Sabotaging the air conditioning in the train except for the last car, Michael forces all of the remaining passengers into the last carriage. He realizes another passenger, a Jazz musician named Oliver, killed the FBI agent. Oliver reveals that he also received the same deal for $100,000, but with orders to assassinate Prynne, after Michael has identified him/her. After a brutal fight, the hitman is thrown by Michael out of the window of the train and killed. Now Joanna, having witnessed the scene through hidden cameras, calls to order Michael to do the killing as well as the identifying.
Michael, who now has hold of the Oliver's gun, tries to force one reluctant passenger to show the contents of her bag. He then gets a call from Joanna that time was running out and that everyone on that train would die. He orders the conductor to stop the train but, somehow, the brakes fail, there is an explosion, the engineer dies and the train is running away uncontrollably at 70 mph. Michael manages to save all of the passengers by unhooking the final carriage from the rest of the train just as they reach a curve, but a conductor dies in the process. Michael instructs the passengers to block visibility into the car by pasting wet newspaper on all the windows, before a massive police force arrives at the scene. In the meantime, Michael discovers Prynne to be this young girl named Sofia, borrowing the nickname from the name of the main character, Hester Prynne, in "The Scarlet Letter" book she was reading. She confides in him and to all present of having been a witness to the murder, not suicide, of her cousin Enrique, by uniformed officers and we find what she carried in her bag was a black box (presumably, a hard drive or surveillance footage) containing incriminating evidence, that she had stolen from the scene. She had only spoken about this to an FBI officer named Garcia who would be waiting for her at the terminal station. Joanna calls Michael and tries to force him to kill Sofia for the sake of his family, but Michael again refuses.
Assuming Michael is holding the train hostage, Murphy is sent to talk to him, only to be revealed as the rogue cop who killed Enrique when he uses a phrase about "being noble" - the same type of language Sofia heard from one of the cops that killed Enrique. Michael and Murphy engage in a fight, during which Michael removes Murphy's electronic ID tag, which identifies him as a "friendly" to the snipers outside using thermal vision. In the scuffle, Murphy reveals that he had been told that the witness was planted on that train to give his friend a chance to earn money he desperately needed. After a violent fight, the snipers, believing Murphy to be Michael, shoot and kill Murphy.
Outside of the train, Sofia is met by the FBI and proceeds to tell them what she knows. Michael is hailed as a hero and exonerated by the other passengers while his family is rescued by the FBI. His old captain admits that Murphy and a few others had been under investigation for some time and offers Michael his job back. Michael rummages in his coat pocket and reveals that he kept the hard drive Sofia gave him containing the incriminating evidence.
Sometime later, Joanna is on a train back from Chicago. Michael approaches her (presumably having found her through the information in the black box) and confronts Joanna about her actions before he shows his police detective badge, implying he is ready to arrest her.
- Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley
- Vera Farmiga as Joanna
- Patrick Wilson as Det. Lt. Alex Murphy
- Jonathan Banks as Walt
- Sam Neill as Captain David Hawthorne
- Elizabeth McGovern as Karen MacCauley
- Killian Scott as FBI Agent Dylan
- Shazad Latif as Vince
- Andy Nyman as Tony
- Clara Lago as Eva
- Roland Møller as Jackson
- Florence Pugh as Gwen
- Edward Bluemel as Gwen's Boyfriend
- Dean-Charles Chapman as Danny MacCauley
- Ella-Rae Smith as Sofia
- Nila Aalia as Sherri
- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Oliver
- Colin McFarlane as Conductor Sam
- Adam Nagaitis as Conductor Jimmy
- Kingsley Ben-Adir as Special Agent Garcia
- Damson Idris as Special Agent Denys
- Ben Caplan as Frank
- Letitia Wright as Jules Skateboarder
- Pat Kiernan as himself
In January 2010, Olatunde Osunsanmi boarded the action-thriller film as director for the production company Gold Circle Films, with a screenplay written by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi. More than a year later, in August 2011, Julian Jarrold was reported to be directing the film instead. In January 2016, Jaume Collet-Serra closed a deal to direct the film, marking his fourth collaboration with Neeson, and also executive produced through Ombra Films, with partner Juan Sola. The film was produced by StudioCanal and The Picture Company.
In September 2015, it was announced that Liam Neeson would star in the film. In June 2016, Vera Farmiga joined, in a role described as "a mysterious woman who boards a commuter train and proposes an enticing opportunity to Neeson's character, one that has dire circumstances if he accepts." The project marks the second working collaboration between Farmiga and Collet-Serra, after 2009's psychological thriller Orphan. On July 13, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, and Jonathan Banks were added to the principal cast, and in August 2016, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith joined in an undisclosed role. The same month, Patrick Wilson joined the cast as a trusted friend of Neeson's character.
Principal photography began on July 25, 2016, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, and continued in New York City. Neeson and McGovern were spotted on the set of the film at Worplesdon railway station in Surrey on September 18, 2016.
In May 2017, it was reported that Roque Baños would compose the film's score. Varèse Sarabande released the soundtrack album digitally in January 2018, with a physical release following on February 9, 2018.
All music composed by Roque Baños.
|The Commuter (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|1.||"A Commuter's Trip"||5:03|
|2.||"Back Home Down"||4:35|
|3.||"One Little Thing"||3:18|
|4.||"They Are Watching You"||2:54|
|5.||"Murdered for Help"||4:11|
|6.||"Zone 7 Tickets"||4:22|
|7.||"A Suspicious Man"||2:03|
|8.||"The Seek Starts"||3:46|
|9.||"A Beautiful Family"||4:18|
|11.||"Do Not Stop the Train"||4:03|
|12.||"Finding the Witness"||4:33|
|13.||"The Train Wreck"||4:37|
|14.||"I Won't Let Them Hurt You"||9:04|
|15.||"Who Is Prince?"||5:43|
|16.||"The End of the Line"||5:01|
In November 2015, Lionsgate pre-bought the domestic distribution rights to the film, in a deal with StudioCanal. The Commuter was originally scheduled for release in the United States on October 13, 2017, and was pushed back to January 12, 2018. The film was set for release in the United Kingdom on October 20, 2017 by StudioCanal, and was also pushed back to January 19, 2018, in accordance with the U.S. rescheduling. The film had a limited IMAX release.
The Commuter grossed $36.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $83.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $119.9 million.
In the United States and Canada, The Commuter was released alongside the openings of Proud Mary and Paddington 2, and the wide expansion of The Post, and was projected to gross $12–14 million from 2,892 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $4.5 million on its first day and $13.7 million over the weekend, on par with previous Neeson-Collet-Serra collaborations, finishing third at the box office behind holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Post. It made $6.6 million in its second weekend, dropping 51.8% and finishing 7th.
Internationally, the film debuted at number two in Germany with $2.6 million. It went on to gross a total of $6.7 million in the country, the biggest market outside the US, as well as $5.6 million in the UK, $5.0 million in France and $2.6 million in Australia.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57% based on 194 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.43/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Commuter's cast is better than its workmanlike script – which helps make this reasonably diverting Liam Neeson action thriller worth the price of a matinee ticket or rental, if not a full-price ticket." Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
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