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, Elizabeth McGovern and Sam Neill, and 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||$36.4 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 has grossed $36 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, who called it familiar to Neeson and Collet-Serra's previous film, Non-Stop, but praised Neeson's performance and the genre thrills.
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Michael MacCauley goes through the same routine prior to his daily commute to work as an insurance salesman. He spends time with his wife Karen and son Danny before boarding the train to work, frequently engaging with other commuters like Walt. On this particular day, Michael is laid off, despite trying to argue against it.
Michael meets his friend, Detective Alex Murphy, who was his former partner during his time as an NYPD detective. As they chat, they see a news story about a city planner who supposedly jumped to his death. Michael admits to Murphy that he has not told Karen about being laid off. They find a former colleague they do not like, Dave Hawthorne, is now captain.
On the train ride home, Michael is told by Walt that a woman is observing him. He is joined by the woman, Joanna. After a brief chat, Joanna tells Michael that there is a compartment in one of the train's washrooms that contains $25,000, plus another $75,000 in cash. She tells him he can have it as long as he helps find someone before the last stop at Cold Spring. The person is using the alias "Prynne". Before departing, Joanna hints at knowing about Michael being a former cop.
Michael looks in the designated washroom and finds the money. When the train reaches a stop, a young woman tries to claim the money. She then hands Michael an envelope, saying it is a warning. Michael finds it contains Karen's wedding ring. Michael tries to call Karen but cannot reach her. He tries Murphy and gets the same result, but leaves a voicemail. Joanna contacts him, telling him he has made his choice and must now find Prynne, or something will happen to his family.
Michael leaves a message for Walt on a piece of newspaper, telling him to contact the police. Just then, Michael receives a phone call from Murphy. Michael tells him what is going on and Murphy says a witness using the name Prynne claims to have seen two men throwing the city planner to his death. Joanna calls Michael again and directs his attention out the window. He sees Walt about to cross the street to talk to officers, but someone working with Joanna pushes Walt into the path of a bus, killing him. She warns Michael and instructs him to find Prynne and place a tracker on them.
Michael observes the other passengers. He spots a young man, Dylan, talking on the phone and carrying a bag. Michael follows Dylan, who attacks him in the next car for following him. When Michael mentions Prynne, Dylan gets suspicious, and the two continue fighting until Michael lets Dylan win so he can slip the tracker on him.
A while later, Michael is called by Joanna again and looks under the floor of the empty carriage, finding Dylan's body. She blames Michael as he identified the wrong person. Dylan was in fact an undercover agent, and the police are on their way after being notified of disturbances on the train. Michael hides next to Dylan's body but gets locked in when a cop steps on the handle. Michael slips out of the train and rolls himself out, before running back to the train. In the commotion, all the money (except for a $100 bill) flies out of his bag.
As the train nears the final stop, Michael causes the train's air-conditioning to malfunction so that all the remaining passengers can move to the empty car. With all the passengers gathered, Michael pegs five commuters as the potential Prynne. He follows a guitar player, Oliver, into an empty cart, but Oliver turns out to be an assassin working with Joanna. Michael fights Oliver and they break a window. Michael gets the upper-hand and stabs Oliver in the neck before throwing him out the window. Oliver is hit by a passing train, and Michael takes his gun.
Once they reach the final stop, Michael slowly realizes that Prynne is not anyone he suspected before. He recalls a young woman, Sofia, who had switched seats after being sat next to an obnoxious passenger. "Prynne" comes from the protagonist of the novel she was reading, The Scarlet Letter. Michael realizes Sofia witnessed the murder and is being taken into witness protection at Cold Spring. Refusing to give her up, Joanna declares that everyone will die now.
Michael tells one of the conductors, Sam, to stop the train. Sam pulls the brakes, but the train keeps moving when the brakes are blown out. With the train set to crash, Michael and Sam try to unhinge their carriage from the rest of the train. Sam helps Michael get it loose, but the train crashes with Sam still inside. Michael manages to jump back onto the last carriage, which derails and comes to a screeching halt on the outskirts of a trainyard.
Sofia reveals a computer drive containing information that the city planner, who was a cousin of Sofia's, had on corrupt city employees. The police arrive outside, believing Michael has taken the passengers hostage. Michael releases the majority of the passengers, leaving the remaining seven onboard. Murphy shows up and mentions the phrase, "There's no such thing as noble", a phrase Sofia overheard one of her cousin’s murderers say. Murphy admits his guilt but goes looking for Prynne. When Sofia tries to reveal herself, other passengers say they are Prynne as well. Michael and Murphy fight while the cops outside try to get a clear shot at Michael. Michael manages to take Murphy's tracker, tricking the police. Once Murphy draws his weapon, Hawthorne orders the cops to take the shot, killing Murphy.
Outside, Michael is reunited with Karen and Danny after being told that the agents arrested three men outside their home. Sofia meets her FBI contact and is taken into protective custody. The other passengers consider Michael a hero. He then talks to Hawthorne, who says that there has been an ongoing investigation into Murphy and any accomplices he may have had. Hawthorne also suggests inviting Michael back to his old job.
Some time later, Michael is now on a train in Chicago, and he manages to find Joanna. Although she pretends not to know him, Michael figures he has her whole scheme pegged and that it will not work. When she asks him how he thinks this will end, Michael simply takes out his detective badge, implying that she will be arrested.
- Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley
- Vera Farmiga as Joanna
- Patrick Wilson as Detective Alex "Murph" Murphy
- Jonathan Banks as Walt
- Andy Nyman as Tony
- Elizabeth McGovern as Karen MacCauley
- Sam Neill as Captain David Hawthorne
- Dean-Charles Chapman as Danny MacCauley
- Florence Pugh as Gwen
- Clara Lago as Eva
- Kingsley Ben-Adir as Special Agent Garcia
- Killian Scott as F.B.I. Agent Dylan
- Letitia Wright as Jules Skateboarder
- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Oliver
- Roland Møller as Jackson
- Shazad Latif as Vince
- Colin McFarlane as Sam
- Nila Aalia as Sherri
- 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 will release the soundtrack album digitally in January 2018, with a physical release following on February 9, 2018.
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.
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 $13.4 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.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57% based on 144 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.4/10. 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 43 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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