Liam Neeson is 65 years old. Can you believe that? And he’s still just about making action movies. This one is a mix of thriller slash mystery slash punching people in the face and directed by Neeson’s most recent common collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop, Run all Night). Neeson plays insurance salesman and ex-cop Michael MacCauley who commutes to work every day via a metro train. On his way home from just being fired he is confronted by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) who offers him a challenge for cash. All he has to is find the person who doesn’t belong on the train, but soon it gets way more intense than that.
The first thing you will notice about the film is how dark it is visually. It’s so dark that at times it’s hard to understand what’s going on and it’s a strange choice by the director. The first half of the movie is set in the day, but looks as though they shot it at night. Perhaps it’s to do with an attempt to hide the needed CGI in this film, because it only had a budget of $30 million. Either way it distracted me throughout, and made most of the action scenes unclear. The action is shot decently, if a bit messy, and there’s one particular moment involving a guitar that is actually pretty fun. I wouldn’t say the action scenes are well choreographed or full of peril, but at times they were outlandishly entertaining.
Neeson is good enough at carrying the physicality of the film, however it’s clear how limited his abilities are now at his age. He’s become an action icon in the last 10 years and that has diminished some of his acting talent. In this film he’s given some shocking lines, and overall it makes his performance quite wooden. Collet-Serra is obviously not an actor’s director because I felt that way about the rest of the cast. There was no sense of space for them to do anything, which is a shame because it left the film empty. And when the action isn’t really that compelling, it leaves the film nothing to really fall back on. It tries to fall back on a convoluted plot that has too many moving parts. The film really overcomplicates itself and with no real focus I found myself losing interest as it got towards the end.
There are moments of excitement and intrigue in this film, but once it got going I knew exactly what I was going to get out of it. Which wasn’t much, because the film isn’t made with any grace. The writing lacked any sort of style and seemed to constantly go for the common denominator. It was enjoyable enough in the cinema, and honestly if they had turned the brightness up a bit I would have liked it a lot more.
Is it worth the price of a cinema ticket?