Reel Reviews: Two heroes set up to fail

By on January 17, 2018

‘The Commuter’

As the buzz surrounding “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” wanes into a mellow murmur, a handful of seemingly lackluster new releases made their way into theaters over the weekend.

Enter Liam Neeson, whose characters never fail at anything and have led the veteran actor to be typecast as an uber-badass. Because of this, I wasn’t too excited to get out and see his newest action thriller, “The Commuter.” I mean, how many times are we going to see Neeson’s family put in danger from which only he can save them with his unique set of skills? This is once again the plot in “The Commuter.” But, it’s a little bit different.

Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, a 60-year old insurance salesman and former cop who has just lost his job and is struggling with bills. While on his commute home, he is forced to find and eliminate a fellow rider — all with a good buzz on.

Where previous movies have focused more on the family relationship, “The Commuter” jumps right into the action by giving viewers a time lapsed intro to MacCauley’s family life and puts him right onto the train and into the action. He has to be more of a puzzle solver than a punch thrower (although there are plenty of fight scenes) which is a refreshing spin on what seemed to be a worn-out premise for a movie. But, the dedication to problem solving leaves holes throughout the story and the movie comes off as disjointed. A couple pieces of humor are forced into the end. The conclusion is obvious, rushed, and incomplete.

Overall, “The Commuter” is simply not as bad as I thought it was going to be. That’s not saying a lot. Another downfall of the movie is the underuse of great actors like Elizabeth McGovern (“Downton Abbey”), Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air”), and Jonathan Banks (“Gremlins”).

Vera Farmiga and Liam Neeson star in “The Commuter,” now in

‘Proud Mary’

Under the title of complete and utter failures, list “Proud Mary” starring Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures,” and TV’s “Empire”). In this obvious homage to great Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, Nelson plays Mary, a Pam Grier inspired tough girl in a Boston crime syndicate.

Mary’s dilemma thrusts her between a young boy she has taken under her wing (even though, or because, she killed his father) and the crime family who got her off the streets. In this sluggish film with little story worth, Mary takes on family head Benny (Danny Glover) and his son Tom (Billy Brown).

The acting is poor; even Glover who seems to never get fully into character. The jokes are forced and unfunny. Screen Gems couldn’t even get the soundtrack right without being completely hokie.

Fitting and soul inspiring jams like Anthony Hamilton’s “Comin’ From Where I’m From” were smothered by the clichéd “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner, which of course comes as Mary decides to go full throttle, guns a-blazin’ up against her new nemesis.

The whole thing is just cheesy. “Proud Mary” is laughable and it’s a shame. By the way, this film is brought to you by Maserati — if you didn’t catch the uncomfortably long shots of the car company logo plastered throughout the movie.

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