Liam Neeson Furious Over Hollywood's Gender Wage Gap

Neeson as Michael in The Commuter. Jay Maidment

With that in mind, consider the plight of poor Liam Neeson, hunky sexagenarian from Northern Ireland, who has oddly morphed into a well-aged action hero over the last decade. It's hard to look at The Commuter (Neeson's fourth collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra since 2011) and see what sets it apart from... well, almost everything. The script has the potential to be so much more, such as a Hitchcockian thriller on the train, but it only turns into a missed opportunity. Much like the train at the center ofits plot, it takes audiences from point A to point B as promised, and gives them a thrilling ride in the process. When Michael is fired from his job one day for no particularly good reason, he is left trying to figure out how he and his wife Karen (Elizabeth McGovern) will be able to make ends meet, what with their son Danny (Dean-Charles Chapman) about to start college.

Long before the train at the center of "The Commuter" physically derails, its storyline and plausibility sputter out of control. In function, however, Michael isn't all that different from Neeson's other action/thriller protagonists, and the actor delivers most of his lines with the same gruff voiced intensity that he's fine-tuned since he first demonstrated his "particular set of skills".

By the time he regrets accepting the assignment, Michael's suburban family is being threatened by thugs, and he's forced to rely on his own resourcefulness to spare his own life and those of his fellow passengers. Telling him that she studies human behavior, she wants to know what he would do if someone offered him a very high financial reward for finding someone on the train with a bag that contains stolen property.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by a motley assortment of commuters also taking Michael's ill-fated train, and the film succeeds in capturing the regularity of everyday life. One shot in particular stands out - as Michael realizes the breadth of the task ahead of him, the camera moves backward through the vehicle and into the next auto, revealing train vehicle after train vehicle, each teeming with passengers and potential targets. There's no reason on earth for someone to blackmail him so there's got to be a situation playing out behind the scenes.

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The Commuter opens with a montage as striking as it is stylized, hinting at the more ambitious filmmaker lurking underneath Collet-Serra's journeyman exterior. While the roles may be smaller, everyone is a possible suspect. Michael gets involved in fights and shootouts, and on occasion finds himself underneath the train or running alongside the train or pushing someone off the train. Combined with the efforts of production designer Richard Bridgland, the lighting feels authentic.

It's not the worst way to waste a couple of hours on a chilly January afternoon, but The Commuter is easily the least of Neeson and Collet-Serra's quartet of potboilers.

"There are a couple of physical altercations", Neeson says coyly, adding the movie's setting presented its challenges.

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