On the train ride home, Michael is approached by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga), who tells him that someone on his train doesn't belong. Out of desperation, he accepts the offer, soon turning his daily commute into a deadly game of Guess Who? as he races against the clock to uncover this special passenger and figure out what makes them so special, while also struggling to simultaneously preserve the safety of his fellow commuters and his family. While on the ride home on the commuter train, he is approached by a odd woman who proposes a hypothetical: if he could track down one person on the train who doesn't seem to belong and identify them with a Global Positioning System tracking device, would he do so with the promise of a $100,000 reward, regardless of the unknown consequences to the identified party? His reward: a hundred grand to ease the sting of his firing.
If there's a gripe worth holding against the film it's that Collet-Serra is already repeating his greatest hits with Neeson, lifting Non-Stop's "search for the culprit" structure, the only difference being that in The Commuter the culprit isn't actually guilty of a crime. The Commuter knows how to take advantage of its setting and distinguish itself from its predecessors in the process. Given the depth of character development and human investment in the narrative, action-rapt audiences may feel likewise. The McCauleys lost their savings in that cluster. The chatty traveller poses what Michael thinks is initially a hypothetical question: in exchange for a large amount of cash hidden in a washroom, would he track down a specific passenger on the same train and place a tracking device on the bag. He needs the money.
You know what? I am sure you get it by now.
Even the daftest, dooziest set pieces here don't have quite the clarity or invention of Collet-Serra's most vigorous action choreography - nor of such superior rail-bound heart-pounders as "Unstoppable" or either version of "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three". AKA, no one's expecting this to be a masterpiece, and it's not.
The film could have likely worked without all the punching and kicking provided, but then what would be left for The Commuter.
That's not necessarily a problem in the Collet-Serra Cinematic Universe, but "The Commuter's" breakneck incoherence - not to mention a generally dour demeanor, shorter on incidental humor than most of the helmer's work - makes it a notch less fun than those previous ex-trash-aganzas. Sometimes you just want an actor like Neeson to fend off an attacker with an electric guitar.
Neeson answered Taken 2, which may be a surprise to some (yes, it wasn't the best, but Taken 3, you have to admit, was really, truly awful) and after an awkward silence having been asked if any famous actress had ever turned him down for a date, he was lastly asked if size matters. The more the movie throws at us, the more that Michael's suspicions become our own and the more delicious Collet-Serra's excesses become.