(This film portion was written by Fernando Martinez)
SOMEONE PLEASE STOP TAKING LIAM NEESON’S FAMILY!!! Ok, so maybe ‘The Commuter‘ isn’t so much about having his family ‘Taken’, but they get threatened to get taken, and that’s close enough.
So “The Commuter” is here simply to prove that Liam Neeson is still an action hero, and to be fair, he is probably our best action hero. At age 65, he’s doing stuff that Tom Cruise wishes he could have done in his 30’s. Actually, this felt like a role that was written for Tom Cruise until someone realized that Tom Cruise is box office poison but everyone loves Liam Neeson probably because of Love Actually.
But you probably want to know about the film. Well, have you seen Taken? Also, Taken 2? Also, Taken 3? Then there was that movie that Liam Neeson did, “Non-Stop,” and that was suspiciously like Taken on a plane. Well, here’s Taken on a train!
Actually, the movie started out really strong. The opening sequence is quite striking; it serves as an homage to Grand Central Station and a look into the lives of people who have to live day after day traveling to and from work and home. Then all of a sudden, it’s a mindless action movie. It throws some whodunnit moments at you to make you think that the film is much deeper than it actually is, but it totally isn’t.
Now I must say some of the good things. It is FULL of action. Liam Neeson is a gift to the silver screen. There’s a reason he’s made Taken 5 times already, and it’s because Neeson is awesome. You want him to get into these impossible situations because you hope that one day, when you’re 65, you’ll be able to kick as much ass as Liam Neeson. What I’m saying is that I love Liam Neeson.
Long story short, this feels like a 90’s action movie a-la “Speed,” but on a train with Liam Neeson. If you are looking for exactly that, then this is a rousing success! If you want an actual cinematic experience, you’ve got a better chance of getting Taken and then having Liam Neeson come to rescue you. (FOR MY OWN SAKE SOMEBODY PLEASE STOP ME!!!!)
The Video: ‘The Commuter‘ comes with a 4K UHD transfer with HDR10 in 2160p, in addition to its 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Both the Blu-ray version and this 4K UHD look quite good with some better elements of color and detail showing up here on the 4K UHD Disc. Facial features such as practical makeup effects, wrinkles, and individual hairs stand out a bit better here as do the grit and grime on the walls in some of the less than stellar looking settings. The exterior and interior of the commuter train shows all of its sheen and imperfections in the steel outer shell as well as the creases in the leather seats. It looks quite good.
Again, the Blu-ray version looks great too, but this UHD image is a bit enhanced, which is noticeable. Colors are well-balanced too and show off the darker tone of the film very well with the enhanced HDR10 option. The cool interiors of the train as well as the bright orange fire explosions all look excellent and well lit. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural for the most part. There is also some digital grain added to the image, which is more noticeable in this 4K UHD version. This allows the film to have a filmic look and not like it’s been put thru the entire digital carwash. It’s a good thing for sure. Lastly, there were no major issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
The Audio: Both the 4K UHD Disc and the Blu-ray version have a Dolby Atmos track that is quite excellent. Train movies that conicide with the action genre generally have a great sound mix to it and this one is no different. It’s loud, well-balanced, and robust on all levels. If you want to show off your sound system with some great action sequences and Dolby Atmos setup up, you can put this film on. The fast train moving on the tracks sounds amazing and flows from all of the speakers on many levels of highs and lows.
It will sound as if the train is moving through your viewing room with smooth operation. The overhead speakers bring the loud sound effects of debris, train movements and explosions very well, to create a big immersive soundscape. The bass is in effect from start to finish, which really allows the depth of this soundtrack to come through nicely. The score always adds to the intense moments too. The dialogue is always clear and easy to follow, and free of all pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills.
End of the Line (HD, 9 Mins.) – A promo fluff piece of clips from the film with cast and crew interviews and short bits of onset footage. Nothing is that engaging or interesting.
Off the Rails (HD, 4 Mins.) – Another promo fluff piece that focuses more on filming in the confines of a train with cast and crew interviews, along with how the filmmakers built the train set.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘The Commuter‘ is your standard Liam Neeson action thriller, but instead of set on a plane or in a foreign country, the setting this time is on a train. I’m now waiting for the Liam Neeson cruise-line thriller and perhaps a hot-air balloon caper with Neeson. You know it’s coming soon. The film itself is fun enough and for those fans of Neeson, you’re gonna like this one. The 4K UHD and Blu-ray video both look great with the 4K UHD and HDR10 having a slight edge. The Dolby Atmos audio mix is outstanding and demo-worthy for sure too. The extras are short and sparse and only feature EPK type material, which is unfortunate. Still, if you’re a Liam Neeson action fan, this comes Recommended!
Written By: Bryan Kluger