It's that The Commuter jumps through so many fucking hoops to eventually come full circle, carefully setting up all this shit about the financial crisis when it's clear what it really, really wants is to show Liam Neeson wailing on a dude with an electric guitar (which does happen, by the way, and owns just as much as it sounds).
What's most tiresome about The Commuter isn't actually how derivative and familiar it is.
Trading a plane for a train, its closest cousin is "Non-Stop", and just like that airborne thriller, "The Commuter" is two-thirds of a good movie before derailing amid boneheaded predictability in act three. On his ride home that day, Michael is approached by a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who makes him an offer: he will be paid $100,00 if he can figure out which of the passengers on the train is carrying something precious in their bag.
"And that's something they do for me because they feel it's what's right and fair", she said. One thing leads to another and Michael quickly finds himself blackmailed and hopes to find this suspicious passenger before the train reaches the end of the line. From there, however, screenwriters Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle pull one movie-cliche punch after another.
Michael McCauley is at first presented as more of a regular person than the characters Neeson has played in his previous collaborations with Collet-Serra. The movie also incorporates some stylistic flourishes (sped up motion, sequence shots seemingly created in post-production) in these scenes, to further spice things up. Again, Neeson's weathered hero carries out his covert, life-or-death task amid an audience of initially unsuspecting everymen and -women, whom Collet-Serra sketches with Cliffs Notes efficiency: a pink-haired college student (Florence Pugh) bickering with her boyfriend; an old-timer (Jonathan Banks, last seen in Mudbound) who chats fondly about the Yanks and the Sox; a preening, Bluetooth-connected power broker (Roland Moller) with a stint at Goldman Sachs on his resume. While I don't necessarily think that Farmiga and Neeson duking it out with chains on top of the train Emperor of the North-style is necessarily what this movie needs, Farmiga is certainly the calibre of villain the movie needs but keeps at bay for 90 per cent of the film's running time. There's a schlocky Hitchcock vibe to the whole thing with one-take fistfights standing alongside contra-zooms. "Unknown" and "Non-Stop" are better efforts, but he also was working from better scripts.
How many times do we have to see this movie? "If my male co-star, who has a higher quote than me but believes we are equal, takes a pay cut so that I can match him, that changes my quote in the future and changes my life". It is 104 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for some intense action/violence, and language. We, as men, have got to be part of it, you know?