(US/France - 2018)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Written by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle. Cast: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Banks, Andy Nyman, Florence Pugh, Ella-Rae Smith, Roland Moller, Killian Scott, Shazad Latif, Clara Lago, Colin McFarlane, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Adam Nagaitis, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Damson Idris. (PG-13, 105 mins)
Not even Liam Neeson expected TAKEN to jumpstart a new career as an action hero in his late 50s way back in 2009. In the ensuing years, he's enjoyed much success with two TAKEN sequels and string of other hits that also led to the Neeson formula giving a bunch of other respectable, award-winning actors their shot at kicking ass and blowing shit up as they push 60, among them Kevin Costner in 3 DAYS TO KILL, Denzel Washington in THE EQUALIZER, Sean Penn in THE GUNMAN, and even the unlikely Gerard Depardieu in the justifiably little-seen VIKTOR. One could even tangentially connect the EXPENDABLES franchise to the unexpected success of TAKEN, which Fox inexplicably had little faith in, sitting on it for over a year and almost dumping it directly to DVD before taking a gamble that paid off. Workaholic Neeson's action movies became such a staple at multiplexes in the early 2010s that it's hard to believe THE COMMUTER is his first film of this type since 2015's RUN ALL NIGHT. He then took a bit of a break from genre fare, appearing in a supporting role as Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the 2016 South Korean WWII epic OPERATION CHROMITE, motion-capturing the title character in J.A. Bayona's A MONSTER CALLS, co-starring as a conflicted priest in Martin Scorsese's arthouse drama SILENCE, and playing Watergate whistleblower "Deep Throat" in 2017's barely-released MARK FELT: THE MAN WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE WHITE HOUSE. Action Neeson is back in THE COMMUTER, and though it's only January, it's already a safe bet that this will be one of the year's most stupidly entertaining thrillers.