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The Commuter Review – Liam Neeson

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Speeding along familiar action-thriller tracks, the actor reaches peak Neeson as a former cop forced to rescue his abducted family while on his daily commute

Theres no stopping this thoroughly efficient train-bound action thriller, which pulls out of New Yorks Grand Central at a sedate pace and steadily accelerates through the suburbs, almost in real time, until 90 minutes later were careering out of control in a reckless race against time. Its another white-knuckle ride from Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra something of a master of high-concept, ticking-clock B-movies and his regular leading man, Liam Neeson, who is now as dependable as a Swiss watch in this type of senior action-hero role.

Liam
Liam Neeson in The Commuter. Photograph: Jay Maidment/AP

Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, insurance broker and family man (although they might as well just name his character Liam Neeson). Hes caught the same Hudson line commuter train for 10 years; except this time Vera Farmiga elegantly plonks herself into the seat opposite and makes Neeson an offer he could refuse but doesnt: find one person on the train based on their destination and nickname, plant a tracking device on their bag, and shell give him $100,000. Hes just lost his job, so why not? As an added incentive, Farmiga tells him theyll kill his wife and son if he refuses or fails.

No sooner is Neeson pitched into this predicament than the questions mount up. Who are they? Why are they doing this? How can he possibly locate this mystery person? Why dont they simply tell him who it is? And first and foremost, havent they seen the Taken movies? Dont they know that if theres one person whose family you dont abduct in order to coerce him into being your random fall guy, its Liam Neeson?

But no time for details. Neesons tormentors quickly demonstrate they arent kidding, the pace starts picking up, and the race against time is on. It helps that Neeson is a former cop, and thus well equipped for the challenge. It also helps that he knows some regulars on the train, and we get to know plenty more passengers or suspects. Who could it be? His buddy Jonathan Banks? The brash Wall Street type? Florence Lady Macbeth Pugh? The cocky conductor? The shifty guy with the snake tattoo? The Latina nurse?

As we accelerate from Hitchcock territory into the Die Hard zone, theres a perverse hows he going to get out of this? pleasure to proceedings, with a few switchbacks and red herrings to keep us guessing. Despite the confined location, theres rarely a dull moment visually, either. Collet-Serra is constantly finding new places to put the camera, to the extent that by the end were familiar with every part of the train, from the vent in the toilet to the carriage couplings beneath the floor. The camera even flies through the punched hole of a train ticket in one gratifying shot.

The Commuter trailer video

But what keeps The Commuter on the rails is Neeson himself. Hes in amazing form for a 65-year-old (his character is only 60), and in terms of actorly presence, hes still got it. His craggy face is now as monumental as Mount Rushmore, his voice is a resonant velvety growl, and his body can still give and take one hell of a pounding. Whats more, he can leap crashing train carriages in a single bound. Hes like a live-action version of Pixars Mr Incredible.

On the downside, The Commuter is in such a hurry to reach its destination without delay, theres no time to enjoy the view. Its so stripped down, the characters are mostly ciphers and theres little in the way of leavening humour or unexpected detours. Perhaps you cant ask too much from a modest, mid-range crowd-pleaser like this, but the experience ends up something like a commuter service itself: you know where its going and it gets you there perfectly well, but in a few years time youd be hard pressed to distinguish it from dozens of similar journeys.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/jan/10/the-commuter-review-liam-neeson-train-thriller

New Movie Reviews

‘Fahrenheit 451’ doesn’t catch fire with HBO adaptation

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“(CNN)Proving you can’t judge a book — or movie — by its cover, “Fahrenheit 451” turns out to be considerably less than the sum of its parts. Featuring the tantalizing tandem of Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, this HBO movie adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel grinds along sluggishly, eclipsed by similar visions (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” anyone?) and becoming one of those films that, alas, looked better on paper.

Jordan’s Montag is, initially, a true believer in his authoritarian mission. He’s destined for a promotion by his boss, Captain Beatty (Shannon), who warns him that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” alluding to the threat of allowing all that book learning to “burst forth like mosquitos, carrying malaria.”
Montag’s eyes are opened, however, by his encounter with Clarisse (Sofia Boutella), who arouses his conscience, introducing him to books and an underground society devoted to disseminating them.

It’s a slow burn, pardon the expression, from Montag’s gradual awakening…”

“Fahrenheit 451” premieres May 19 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/18/entertainment/fahrenheit-451-review/index.html

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Deadpool 2 Movie Review

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“Two years later, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what was so enjoyable about the first Deadpool movie. Was it the action? The fourth-wall-breaking? The swearing? The cocaine and masturbation jokes? Well … yes. A hard-R bloodbath that gleefully polluted the pristine sea of squeaky-clean superhero movies, Deadpool went on to make more than $783 million worldwide at the box office. It was the kind of success that guarantees a sequel. Of course, that sequel faced an entirely new problem from its very conception: living up to its predecessor.

In theory, this shouldn’t be that hard. Star Ryan Reynolds and director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) presumably had more money to work with this time around. The cast is bigger, and includes Atlanta’s Zazie Beetz (the lucky hero Domino) and Thanos himself, Josh Brolin (the cyborg Cable). But there’s one…”

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Here are the first reactions to ‘Solo’: A Star Wars Story’

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“The grungiest, most grunt-level blue collar Star Wars ever and I am here for it.”

Image: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs and it’s sitting on Hollywood Boulevard right now.

Solo: A Star Wars Story has landed, premiering at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on Thursday, two weeks ahead of its worldwide theater release — and the first reactions are in.

Stars Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, and Thandie Newtown, attended the premiere along with Star Wars legends Mark Hamill, Ewan McGregor, and Billy Dee Williams.

A stand-alone anthology film set prior to A New Hope, Solo explores the early rapscallion days of your ol’ pal Han Solo (Ehrenreich), and his ol’ pals Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Glover), with some new characters in between.

Here are the first reactions from critics and industry folk, fresh from the Hollywood screening. The consensus? She may not look like much but she’s got it where it counts, kid.

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