The Commuter - Official Trailer | Liam Neeson | Vera Farmiga | Patrick Wilson

The Commuter - Official Trailer | Liam Neeson | Vera Farmiga | Patrick Wilson

Liam Neeson's latest action flick, "The Commuter", which hit theaters Friday, takes place on a commuter train the most seasoned riders may recognize as an embellished version of Metro-North.

I have never been on a transit train before, but after seeing this movie, I know every part of one.

But one day is a particularly bad one. With his savings depleted by the 2008 financial crisis and college tuition coming soon for his high-school graduate son, McCauley's panic is palpable.

On the day he's laid off from his job, he's approached by a stranger (Vera Farmiga) who makes him a mysterious offer: identify the rider on the train named "Prynne" and slip a Global Positioning System on their person, and collect $100,000 for his efforts.

McCauley soon discovers he has stepped into the plot of a powerful syndicate using him to ferret out a crucial Federal Bureau of Investigation witness. The web around McCauley is mysterious. He has until the Cold Spring stop to do it. But then again, even the Feds deserve a bit of a brisk hike.

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At this point Neeson must decide who is the person that doesn't belong on this train.

It leaves Grand Central Terminal, but makes several underground subway stops that the real-life commute line doesn't make. It's the kind of inaccuracy that will cause untold swarms of strap-hangers to throw their MetroCards at the screen. Collet-Serra knows how to pull off excellent shots in space as small as a train.

The opening scenes of The Commuter are fraught with tension, especially once the plot is set in motion, and in this way it most resembles Non-Stop, in which Neeson's alcoholic air marshall had to identity a terrorist on a plane while avoiding being framed himself. As before, Neeson is a lone warrior trying to stay decent in a fallen world.

The old equation of man-plus-locomotive has been a dependable one since Buster Keaton rode the rails in "The General", Burt Lancaster in "The Train" and Denzel Washington in "Unstoppable". Such a woeful time of year for new releases warrants repeating the old warning: If you see something, say something. Two stars out of four.

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