I brought a friend with me that said during the screening, “This movie thinks it’s a Hitchcock film.”
Well, I’m guessing that’s what Jaume Collet-Serra thought. He’s the one that’s given us the Liam Neeson garbage Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night. And it’s what’s prompted Neeson to say at 65-years-old, he won’t be doing these types of action pictures anymore. Thank God.
Anyway, you might think about Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, but I thought more of the Keanu Reeves movie Speed, as well as Murder on the Orient Express; and heck, one scene is straight out of Spartacus and one straight out of Groundhog Day (the opening, with him waking up at 6:00 a.m. to a clock radio).
Neeson plays Michael McCauley, an insurance salesman that used to be a cop (it’s never explained why he isn’t a cop anymore, just that he thinks his former boss, played by bearded, devilish looking Sam Neill) is a jerk. He’s wondering how he’s going to pay for his son’s (Dean-Charles Chapman) college tuition. And after he kisses his wife (Elizabeth McGovern) goodbye, he’s terminated from his job (and just like his job as a cop, we’re never really given a reason why).
He drowns his sorrows in a few beers with his ex-partner (Patrick Wilson), who keeps talking about how much he always had his back, and insists on him “catching that train.” Uh, any guesses whether he’s involved in all this?
On the train, we meet a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga), who is written so cartoonishly evil it takes you right out of things. As you know from the commercial, he’s offered $100,000 to find somebody on the train and alert them to who it is. I’m guessing she realized he has a special set of skills, although…when they threaten to kidnap his family and kill them if he doesn’t do this…you wonder why she doesn’t realize those skills might come back to bite her in the butt.
There are so many flaws in logic along the way, and you have to constantly wonder how these people are watching his every move, and why they don’t just find out who the person is themselves? They also seem to have access to every cell phone of every person on this train.
I was also wondering why they didn’t just stick to an interesting ethical dilemma. Have McCauley take $100,000 after he was just laid off and wonder if it’s right that he’s ratting someone out without knowing if that will endanger the person’s life.
Teenagers might be entertained by this movie…oh hell, most people probably will be. My friend said, “I wanted to hate this because of all the flaws, but I kinda liked it. There were enough funny lines and stuff.”
Sure, it had some entertaining scenes and a few funny quips, but I can only take so many cliches and usual red herrings of every one-dimensional passenger acting strange.
I’m also tired of the shaky camera (a favorite technique of this director).
There’s an African-American guitarist on the train that has a left handed guitar. It made me think of Jimi Hendrix (who was left handed). Especially when the guitar got smashed up in a fight the way Hendrix would’ve smashed it onstage at Woodstock.
The movie has a surprisingly good cast. If you saw the commercials and didn’t roll your eyes — you probably won’t be disappointed.
2 stars out of 5.