Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 2018. Ombra Films, StudioCanal, The Picture Company. Story by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Screenplay by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi, Ryan Engle. Cinematography by Paul Cameron. Produced by Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona. Music by Roque Baños. Production Design by Richard Bridgland. Costume Design by Betsy Heinemann, Jill Taylor. Film Editing by Nicolas De Toth.
Liam Neeson has officially taken the Angry Man subgenre of action movies, once ruled by the likes of Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris and considered merely B status, and brought it to A level, proving his fitness for the task as entertainment in itself: how often does an actor sell tickets to people who just love to see him get this upset? He plays an insurance salesman who takes the same train from the suburbs into the city and back every day, his days without incident until a special one begins badly and ends with a lot of noise. Neeson is pulled into his boss’s office and laid off because of poor revenue, then decides to drown his sorrows in a bar with his cop friend (Patrick Wilson) before deciding to head home on his usual train. A mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga, as well suited to delivering bad news as anyone ever was) approaches him and offers up a very lucrative opportunity: thousands of dollars are hidden in the train’s lavatory that are his to keep if he agrees to identify a passenger about whom she no information except a name. Neeson doesn’t want to do it, but it soon becomes obvious that Farmiga is part of a network of shady operatives who see all, can do anything (like push his friends into live traffic) and can get to his wife (Elizabeth McGovern in a throwaway role) and kid, revealing that his having any option in the matter was just an illusion. The majority of the film is spent watching as our grizzled hero travels back and forth from car to car looking for the individual in question, eventually realizing that what he is doing is helping bad guys identify a key FBI witness who is about to provide evidence at a big trial. Let’s ignore the silly plot point that federal agents would let a witness travel alone on public transit and focus on the even more hilarious idea that a big lug like Liam Neeson could ever sell insurance, then remind ourselves of the cheap trick of having his character be an ex-cop (who turned to selling insurance!) and what you have is pure film fantasy that is also very amusing fluff. Ridiculously unbelievable action sequences and shameless conveniences are thrown out in predictable order, and don’t pay attention to the star billing or it will give away a major plot twist, but the experience is diverting to say the least, and the entire supporting cast put their backs into their small turns.