The Commuter

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Commuter Movie Poster Image
Train-set Neeson thriller isn't smart, but it is exciting.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Touches on the idea that people who do everything "right" often aren't rewarded; characters say that people must be unscrupulous to really get ahead in this cynical world. But happily, despite some poor decisions, the good guys eventually choose to be good.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Neeson's MacCauley is a fascinating action hero -- his success isn't about bodybuilding or fighting skill but rather about goodness, trying to do the right thing, and trying to protect the ones he loves, although he's certainly flawed. He faces several tough choices and doesn't always choose correctly, but he does try to do what's best for those around him. Cast members/characters represent a wide array of cultures and backgrounds.

Violence

Guns and shooting. Peril. Brutal fight scenes, with martial arts and stabbing with knives. A dead body. A man is pushed in front of a bus; his head smashes against it. Bloody nose, bloody wounds. Huge, spectacular train crash, with flying debris.

Sex

Married couple kisses.

Language

A use of "f--k," plus sporadic use of "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "pr--k," "son of a bitch," "hell," "goddamn," "scumbag," "frickin'," "Jesus" (as an exclamation), "swear to God." Middle-finger gesture.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

After being fired, a man drinks several pints of beer in a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Commuter is a Liam Neeson thriller set on a commuter train. Neeson's character must make some hard choices and try to solve a puzzle. Violence is the biggest issue: Expect intense fight scenes, with punching, kicking, stabbing with knives, and bloody wounds. A gun is brandished, but shots are only sporadically fired. A man's head is smashed by a bus, and there's a massive derailed-train sequence with smashing and flying debris. Language includes a use of "f--k" and infrequent use of other words ("s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole"); there's also a middle-finger gesture. After being fired, a man drinks several beers in a bar. It's not exactly an airtight story, but it moves fast enough that viewers can sit back and enjoy the silly suspense and crazy action.

User Reviews

Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byHendo H. U January 7, 2018
Adult Written byVanessa M. January 20, 2018

Kept me on the edge of my seat!

I watched this with my 12 year old daughter. I was a bit concerned about the adult content but she said it's her new favorite movie. I'm not going to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLuke6671 January 20, 2018

One of the best Liam Neeson Thrillers Yet!

This movie was amazing! I had very high hopes of this movie walking into the theatre and I was right! It was definitely one of the best Liam Neeson Thrillers Ye... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 14, 2018

Commuter Is Thrilling Yet Stupid

VIOLENCE: Intense Train Kidnapping, Some Fights LANGUAGE: One of f--k, some uses of s--t, and hell SEX: None, (a couple sleeps in bed tho) DRUGS: None QUALITY:... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE COMMUTER, Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) has worked as an insurance salesman for 10 years, riding the train in and out of New York each day, on both good days and bad. Then he loses his job, just when he needs to pay for his son's college tuition. On the train home, a woman he doesn't know (Vera Farmiga) asks MacCauley whether, in exchange for $100,000, he'd be willing to find a single passenger, one who doesn't belong, and plant a tracer on the passenger's bag. MacCauley soon learns that his wife and son will be in danger if he doesn't take the offer and follow the rules. So he goes about trying to find the unknown passenger, though each time he comes close, the game takes a new turn. When the train begins to hurtle out of control, headed for derailment, he realizes just how high the stakes really are -- and how much power the forces of evil have. Can MacCauley solve the puzzle before it's too late?

Is it any good?

Neeson's fourth pairing with director Jaume Collet-Serra, this thriller is far from great, but the duo's usual blend of non-stop action and silly suspense still works like crazy. (Their previous collaborations are Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night.) Though the plot of The Commuter doesn't really hold water, the movie moves fast enough and doles out information so cleverly and sporadically that it's possible to simply turn off your brain and go along for the speedy ride. It helps that Neeson is such a fascinating presence. Rather than a trained bodybuilder, he's a 60-something everyman/family man who's strong and charismatic while striving to do the right thing.

Virtually every shot of The Commuter is on him, though Collet-Serra also provides plenty of razzle-dazzle, including the wonderful opening montage of all the mornings of a lifetime: waking up to the alarm, drinking coffee, leaving the house, possibly arguing/possibly kissing. On the train, the camera roams up and down the aisles smoothly, passing through one empty car whose air-conditioning is broken and fluidly twisting and turning to capture all the suspects' faces. Fight scenes and action scenes may not be masterful, but they're at least clear, potent, and exciting. Indeed, The Commuter is close in spirit to what used to be called a B movie, and it's solid entertainment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Commuter's violence. How intense is it? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie? Are different ethnicities, cultures, races, and sexes represented? Is there any commentary on their representation?

  • How is drinking depicted in the movie? Does the main character drink for pleasure or for other reasons? Is drinking glamorized? Is it used as a solution to problems?

  • Is the main character untrustworthy or unforgivable for initially taking the money? What does he learn over the course of the story?

Movie details

For kids who love action and thrills

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