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Jaume Collet-Serra
Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Writing Credits:
Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle

Former cop Michael MacCauley gets caught up in a criminal conspiracy during his daily commute home.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$13,701,452 on 2982 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English Late Night 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/17/2018

• “End of the Line” Featurette
• “Off the Rails” Featurette
• Previews


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


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The Commuter [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 7, 2018)

Continuing a late-career trend that started with 2009’s Taken, 2018’s The Commuter brings Liam Neeson back with another butt-kicking part. A former cop, Michael MacCauley (Neeson) became an insurance agent years earlier, and he takes the same train commute daily.

During this routine journey, a mysterious woman named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) approaches Michael with a cryptic offer. If he locates a particular passenger, he can earn a reward – and if he doesn’t, dire consequences may result. Michael finds himself forced to deal with this bizarre threat.

Someday I plan to rent a theater and host a Liam Neeson film festival that focuses solely on his post-Taken action flicks. However, I’ll remove the credits from each movie and challenge viewers to identify which one is which.

Spoiler alert: they’ll fail.

Yes, that’s an exaggeration. Yes, this may be a cheap shot at Neeson. Consider me guilty of these crimes.

My point remains: over the last decade, Neeson has essentially made the same movie over and over again. Sure, some variations occur, but he seems to play the same role every time and the results always play out in the same way.

Sometimes this works out and brings us an enjoyable action ride, and other times… not so much. Trite and tedious, Commuter falls into that “not so much” category.

Which doesn’t have to be the case, as the movie’s Hitchcockian motif comes with potential. Granted, Michael’s background as a cop separates somewhat him from the usual “ordinary man” favored by Hitchcock, but as depicted, the character seems “average” enough suit that concept, and the story boasts ample intrigue and mystery.

Unfortunately, as displayed here, Commuter squanders its possible strengths due to cheap, ham-fisted execution. From the stiff, flat exposition at its start through the obvious “thrills” at every turn, the film fails to take advantage of any clever concepts.

Instead, Commuter offers a reel of plot holes and contrivances. It telegraphs virtually every “revelation” and comes with nary a surprise along the way.

This robs the film of any sense of tension, as does the movie’s presentation. Everything about Commuter ramps the material to “11” and tries to beat the viewer over the head with a false sense of urgency.

Expect these choices to infect every aspect of the film. The score constantly urges us to buy into the non-existent “excitement”, and the story tends to play like a long reel of increasingly ineffective climaxes.

Not that long ago, I seemed to gripe about the gratuitous use of handheld “shaky-cam” photography in an awful lot of movies. I don’t do this as much now, and I assumed I’d just been beaten down by Hollywood – I figured I became so accustomed to this style that I barely noticed its overuse any more.

Commuter quickly disavowed me of that notion, as the camerawork became a substantial distraction. Granted, the photographic choices varied, so we didn’t get a relentless Paul Greengrass-style “jerky-cam fest”.

However, the camera bobs and weaves much more than necessary, especially during many simple scenes. For instance, a basic chat at a bar turns into a nausea-inducing presentation as the image jumps and skitters.

All of this feels desperate, like the filmmakers don’t really trust the natural drama of the material. They seem eager to convey any form of “tension” they can find, and this results in a thriller with zero actual thrills.

Neeson fails to break a sweat as our lead. Like I noted, he plays the same character he’s done over the last decade, so expect nothing new or fresh here. Neeson seems bored and that impacts the end result – if he doesn’t care enough to exert some effort, why should we invest in the tale?

Even with a top-notch performance from Neeson, though, Commuter would fail. 105 minutes of contrivances, coincidences and plot holes, this becomes a weak attempt at a thriller.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Commuter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer presented the film in an appealing manner.

Sharpness looked good. Some softness hit a few interior shots, but those instances remained mostly insubstantial, so the majority of the flick showed fine clarity and accuracy.

Shimmering failed to distract, and jaggies also stayed away from the image. Edge haloes remained absent, and the movie also lacked any source flaws.

In terms of colors, Commuter went with a pretty standard mix of orange and teal that emphasized the latter. Despite these predictable choices, the hues worked fine.

Blacks were pretty deep, and shadows were well-depicted. The image offered a solid “B+” presentation.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack packed a pretty good sense of action, with active use of the various channels. Music filled the various channels in a satisfying manner, and effects fleshed out the spectrum in a logical way.

The film focused on train-related material, elements that managed to add immersion to the tale. These worked for the story and added punch to the proceedings.

Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, while effects remained vivid and full-bodied.

In addition, music was vibrant and dynamic. The audio suited the story and brought power to the tale.

Two featurettes appear here. End of the Line runs nine minutes, 15 seconds and provides comments from director Jaume Collet-Serra, producers Alex Heineman and Andrew Rona, writers Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, stunt coordinator Mark Vanselow, fight choreographer Roy Taylor, and actors Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Jonathan Banks, Ella Rae-Smith, Patrick Wilson, Shazad Latif, Sam Neill, and Florence Pugh.

“Line” looks at story/characters, shooting in England and production design, Collet-Serra’s impact on the production, cast and performances, stunts and action. “Line” becomes a superficial but passable view of some production areas.

Off the Rails lasts four minutes, 18 seconds and features Heineman, Collet-Serra, Rona, and production designer Richard Bridgeland. “Rails” looks at the film’s replication of a train and elements related to these aspects of the shoot. We get a nice view of these set design areas.

The disc opens with ads for American Assassin, Rememory, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Winchester and Our Kind of Traitor. No trailer for Commuter appears here.

A stale compilation of clichés and hamfisted plot points, The Commuter turns into a flawed thriller. Though the story comes with potential, the execution makes it a flop. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio along with minor supplements. Nothing here works very well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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