THE COMMUTER

"Solid Suspense Thriller"

NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

THE COMMUTER is a thriller about a seemingly mild-mannered insurance salesman whose boring daily commute home is disrupted by a mysterious woman who offers him $100,000 if he’ll find another passenger and place a GPS tracker on their bag. THE COMMUTER has a strong moral worldview, but there is some foul language and intense violence, so caution is advised for older children.

Review:

THE COMMUTER is a thriller about a seemingly mild-mannered insurance salesman whose boring daily commute home is disrupted by a mysterious woman who offers him $100,000 if he’ll find another passenger and place a GPS tracker on their bag. THE COMMUTER has a strong moral worldview, but there is some foul language and intense violence, so caution is advised for older children.

The movie stars Liam Neeson as a seeming Everyman life insurance salesman named Michael who loses his job abruptly just five years before retirement and while suffering under a crushing pile of debts. A former policeman, he meets his old police partner for drinks after getting fired. He then heads home on the train to what is normally a boringly routine commute to the suburbs.

However, this day is different. A train buddy points out that a mysterious woman named Joanna is staring at Michael, and soon she sits down with him and makes a strange but compelling offer. She claims her job specialty is psychologically profiling people, and she seems to ask Michael a hypothetical question. Would he track down a strange passenger named Prin and place a GPS monitor on their bag if he was given $100,000?

Joanna then disappears off the train, but when Michael finds the first $25,000 where she told him to find it, the race begins. Wary that he might be caught in a dangerous situation, Michael tries to leave the train with the first batch of money, only to be stopped by another stranger, who gives Michael his wife’s wedding ring. This sends the strong message that mysterious forces have tracked down Michael’s family and they are in danger if he doesn’t comply.

Michael weeds through hundreds of people and tries to solve the mystery of who Prin is and why the mystery woman wants her followed. THE COMMUTER builds an impressively smart and atmospheric thriller that recalls the best of Alfred Hitchcock. No matter what he tries to do to get out from under Joanna’s control, he gets foiled, and he also keeps guessing the wrong people with increasingly dire consequences.

THE COMMUTER is made with class and taste while maintaining a constant suspense. As usual, Neeson is in his element as yet another upstanding family man with a special set of action skills. During the movie, he becomes the center of an ever-changing cast of strangers who flit in and out of his sight and consciousness as he’s forced to constantly evaluate those around him for signs of being his mysterious quarry.

The action is pitched at a standard action-movie level, crisply executed when the hand to hand combat occurs and with some surprising stunts along the way, but never bloody or graphic. Happily, the foul language is relatively sporadic, with one “f” word used in the context of a rabble-rousing line to a stockbroker about the allegedly corrupt investment firm Goldman Sachs.

One impressively moral touch is its extremely positive portrayal of marriage. Michael and his longtime wife are shown as loving and happy and as good parents to their two teenage sons. In fact, they make a point of flashing their wedding rings at each other every morning. Also, Michael immediately shoots down Joanna’s seeming flirtation by saying he’s married. Finally, while a police corruption scandal turns out to be behind all the suspense, the movie makes it clear that there are plenty of good cops too.

Overall, THE COMMUTER is a surprisingly rousing way to start the new year and expertly crafted entertainment. Caution for older children is advised because of some foul language and intense but not graphic action violence.

Content:

(BBB, PP, Acap, LL, VV, A, M):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong moral worldview about doing the right thing, protecting family and other people, and extolling marriage and marital fidelity, with a generally positive portrayal of police, including the hero, who’s an ex-cop, but the hero is mad at Wall Street about losing his family’s savings in the 2008 fiscal crisis, curses a stockbroker at one point and loses his job as the movie opens;

Foul Language:
Nine obscenities (including one “f” word); three or four GDs, one Jesus, one or two light profanities, and an obscene gesture, etc.;

Violence:
Strong, often intense action violence such as an extensive fight scene on a train, man is pushed in front of a bus and killed, train conductor is killed, train crash endangers many lives, several gunshots are fired during a fight, man is dangerously dragged under a train car and risks his life trying to climb back in, threats and implied threats, and man finds himself trapped in a secret under-floor compartment next to a corpse;

Sex:
No sex;

Nudity:
No nudity;

Alcohol Use:
Hero goes to a bar to drink after he gets fired;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or drug use; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Light miscellaneous immorality where police corruption is the backdrop of the story, with one cop in particular being two-faced, but the hero is a former policeman.

In Brief:

THE COMMUTER stars Liam Neeson as Michael, a happily married former policeman just laid off from his current job. On the train ride home, a mysterious woman named Joanna sits down with him and makes a strange but compelling offer. She offers him $100,000 to track down a strange passenger named Prin and place a GPS monitor on her bag. Joanna then disappears off the train, but when Michael finds the first $25,000 where she told him to find it, the race begins to find the other woman.

THE COMMUTER builds into an impressively smart, atmospheric thriller that recalls some of Alfred Hitchcock’s better movies. No matter what Michael tries to do to get out from under Joanna’s control, he gets foiled, and he also keeps guessing the wrong people with increasingly dire consequences. Despite taking the money at first, Michael generally chooses to do the right thing and has to protect his family and other people. So, THE COMMUTER has a really solid moral worldview, but caution is advised for older children due to some strong foul language and violence.