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Review: “The Commuter” Doesn’t Steer Too Far Off The Rails

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I’ve often cited director Jaume Collet-Serra as the director of the “better” Liam Neeson action films. He places Neeson in thrilling scenarios that are not exactly original, but still simmering with excitement. The Commuter is no different, maintaining Jaume’s ability never to surprise, but never bore. You’re not wrong if you thought this movie was just Jaume and Neeson’s previous film Non-Stop, only with the plane swapped for a train, but it’s still just as stirring and entertaining. Don’t force that phone out of Neeson’s hand if it ain’t broken.

the commuter movie spoonYou can play a game of bingo with trying to spot all the Neesonisms. He plays Michael McCauley, an insurance salesman who was recently fired and has a family to fund. At one point we’ll learn that he used to be a cop. Not long into the film and he’ll be talking to a terrorist on a cell phone, holding his family hostage unless he completes a task. His task will involve tracking down a certain mysterious passenger and retrieve some mysterious MacGuffin. Naturally, the terrorist has secret agents on the train tracking his every move. And he’ll need to find the right person by the last stop before his family becomes the next casualties in the slowly stacking body count.

Jaume’s direction is as striking and inventive as it ever was. He leads the camera through everything from the hole in ticket stubs to the roaring wheels of the train. In what I hope is becoming a new tradition, Neeson will also battle someone with an unusual weapon. In Jaume’s previous Neeson film, Run All Night, it was flaming two-by-fours. In this movie, it’s a guitar he brandishes against someone with an ax. There’s plenty of gritty fist fights to be had, including one where bodies are forced out the train window while an opposite track train zooms by. And it wouldn’t be an action-packed thriller if we didn’t see the train fly off the tracks in a grand spectacle of destruction.

The Commuter, however, stays relatively on track. Don’t get me wrong; it does become very preposterous as it goes along. Everything seems as though its well-coordinated to conspire against Neeson’s character that he has to turn into as much of a detective as he does a kick-butt action hero. There’s a lot of lost potential with such a complex scenario where so much more could be explored. A major disappointment is the supporting players of Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill being reduced to bookended roles. Both are fantastic actors and fun to watch in their very brief scenes that it’s a shame they don’t stay with the story as consistently. Oh, and we don’t get a scene of Neeson fist-fighting atop a speeding train.

This is the type of film that after a while you stop caring about the convoluted conspiracy and become more infatuated with the spinning wheels of a familiar vehicle. On that level, The Commuter is a fun enough thriller that always keeps the mind moving, the blood pumping, and the eyes entertained. Neeson proves he still has some fire in his belly at 65 with another role that finds him desperate, furious, scared, and sympathetic. He never misses a beat, including an amusing moment of commentary when he overhears an investor working for Goldman Sachs, giving him the finger and telling him F you on behalf of the middle class. Jaume hasn’t lost it either in staging engaging action and tension building shots. I don’t know how long he can keep the Neeson-in-duress-on-the-phone genre going, but it’s proven to have some remarkable mileage thus far.

[author title=”About the Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie Reviewer Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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