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The Commuter

The first great film of 2018 is (for me at least), The Commuter. It stars the Irishman Liam Neeson, and is directed by the Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra. This is their fourth and second-best collaboration. Their best film is, of course, Non-Stop, which is very much like The Commuter, except it takes place on an airplane. The Commuter happens on a train that links Manhattan to the suburbs. Neeson is an insurance salesman and former cop (Michael) who has "taken" this train for a long decade. He is a father, married, 60 years old, and juggling two mortgages.

Shit hits the fan on the very day he is laid off. He leaves his Manhattan office and, with the heaviest eyes in Hollywood, faces his mounting debts and expenses. He goes to an Irish pub to drink and think. What is he supposed to do now? He has played the capitalist game by the rules. No one can question his work ethic, yet, in the end, the system treated him no better than a beggar.

During the long train ride home, Neeson gives a Goldman Sachs exec the middle finger and says: "Fuck you, from the middle class." That's when the fun really begins. Yes, sir, it's that kind of film. It's got lots of action and tension. It has an amazing scene that involves smashing an electric guitar on someone's head. Neeson is almost killed by the baddies or the train several times.

But if you look beyond the thrills and ox-stunning blows (thank you, Nabokov), you find that all of the leading characters in the movie are tired of always just getting by. The commuters are grounded every fucking day by the downward pressure of the wage-labor market. All of this says something that is very important: Workers and bosses are not at all partners in the profit-making enterprise. The relationship is antagonistic and volatile. It can explode at any moment. This is Red Hollywood at its best.

For more info about The Commuter and other films playing this weekend, see Movie Times.