The Commuter (film)

The Commuter is a 2018 action thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi and Ryan Engle. The film stars Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Jonathan Banks, and Sam Neill. It follows a man who is unwittingly recruited into a murder conspiracy after meeting a mysterious woman while on his daily train commute.

The Commuter
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJaume Collet-Serra
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Byron Willinger
  • Philip de Blasi
  • Ryan Engle
Story by
  • Byron Willinger
  • Philip de Blasi
Music byRoque Baños
CinematographyPaul Cameron
Edited byNicolas de Toth
Distributed by
Release date
  • January 8, 2018 (2018-01-08) (New York City)
  • January 12, 2018 (2018-01-12) (United States)
  • January 19, 2018 (2018-01-19) (United Kingdom)
  • January 24, 2018 (2018-01-24) (France)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • France[2][3]
Budget$40 million[4]
Box office$119.9 million[5]

The film premiered in New York City on January 8, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on January 12, 2018, by Lionsgate, and on January 19, 2018 in the United Kingdom by StudioCanal; it had a select IMAX release. The film grossed $119 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics, who called it similar to Neeson and Collet-Serra's previous film, Non-Stop, but praised Neeson's performance and the genre thrills.


Michael MacCauley, an Irish-American NYPD member turned insurance agent, has a wife and teenaged son. He goes through the same routine train commute to work and back every day, taking the Hudson Line from Tarrytown to Grand Central Terminal, often interacting with the same other commuters. His daily routine is interrupted when he is abruptly laid off from his job due to budget cuts after a decade at the same company, leading him to wonder how he will pay his mortgage or afford his son's college tuition. Choosing not to immediately reveal his dismissal to his family, he instead confides in Murphy, his ex-partner on the force, while he and Murphy's unit are at a bar.

On the train home, Michael meets a mysterious woman named Joanna, who makes small talk with him. Joanna describes herself as an academic who studies human behavior and tells him there are sixteen distinct types of personalities. She proposes a hypothetical situation to Michael, asking him to do one little thing for which he is uniquely skilled and results of which would have consequences that he would know nothing about, but would affect one of the passengers on the train. Joanna's one little thing that she wants Michael to do is locate "Prynne," the alias of an unknown passenger, who she says doesn't belong and has something stolen. Joanna proceeds to tell him that he will find $25,000 in the bathroom and will be paid another $75,000 when the job is done. Michael starts to question whether this is real or hypothetical, and Joanna, before she gets off the train, alludes to him being a former cop. Out of curiosity, Michael searches the bathroom and finds an envelope with $25,000.

He attempts to leave the train but is stopped by a young woman who hands him another envelope with Michael's wife's wedding ring, and tells him it's a warning. Michael attempts to call his wife but with no response. Michael attempts to warn a fellow passenger of what is going on by writing on his newspaper. Michael leaves a voicemail describing the situation to Murphy, and then receives a call from Joanna, threatening him and his family. She tells him that the train is rigged with hidden cameras, and to look outside, where he sees the passenger to whom he gave the newspaper being deliberately pushed in front of a bus and killed by an accomplice. Joanna then points him to a GPS tracker in his jacket and orders him to plant it on Prynne.

Michael gives a fake report of suspicious behavior to a conductor, who announces he plans to search a woman's bag. A man immediately leaves the car and Michael follows him, at which point he attacks Michael. They fight and Michael plants the GPS tracker on him. Murphy calls back and informs him that Prynne is a key witness in a supposed suicide case of a man at the city planner's office, Enrique Mendez, leading Michael to realize that Prynne will be killed and that Michael is being set up.

In a deserted carriage, Michael discovers the body of the man he planted the GPS tracker on and a badge revealing he was an FBI agent. Joanna then contacts him, chastising him for marking the wrong person and warns him that another passenger has reported his suspicious activities on the train to police, who stop the train to investigate. Michael manages to evade detection by hiding with the corpse under the carriage, but in the process accidentally tears his bag and loses the 25,000 dollars. Sabotaging the air conditioning in the train except for the last car, Michael forces all the remaining passengers into the last carriage. He realizes another passenger, a Jazz musician named Oliver, killed the FBI agent. Oliver reveals that he also received the same deal for $100,000, but with orders to assassinate Prynne, after Michael has identified him/her. After a brutal fight, Michael throws the hitman out of the train window, killing him. The real "Prynne" is revealed to be a young girl named Sofia, who is holding incriminating information on powerful people and was to go into witness protection at the final stop of the train. Michael asks Sofia why she did not go to the police. She reveals that it was the police who killed Enrique, who was Sofia's cousin.

Joanna calls Michael and tries to force him to kill Sofia for the sake of his family, but Michael refuses. Joanna activates the fail-safe plan by detonating rigged explosives on the brakes, to derail the train in order to kill everyone aboard. Michael manages to save all of the passengers by unhooking the final carriage from the rest of the train right before a curve, but a conductor, Sam, dies assisting him. Michael instructs the passengers to block visibility into the car by pasting wet newspaper on all the windows, before a massive police force arrives at the scene.

Assuming Michael is holding the train hostage, Murphy is sent to talk to him, only to be revealed as the rogue cop who killed Enrique when he uses a phrase about "being noble" - the same type of language Sofia heard from one of the cops that killed Enrique. Michael and Murphy engage in a fight, during which Michael removes Murphy's electronic ID tag, which identifies him as a "friendly" to the snipers outside using thermal vision. After a violent fight, the snipers, believing Murphy to be Michael, shoot and kill Murphy.

Outside the train, the FBI meets Sofia, who proceeds to tell them what she knows. Michael is hailed as a hero and exonerated by the other passengers while the FBI rescues his family. His old captain admits that Murphy and a few others had been under investigation for some time and offers Michael his job back. Michael rummages in his coat pocket and reveals that he kept the hard drive Sofia gave him containing the incriminating evidence.

Sometime later, Joanna is on a train back from Chicago. Michael approaches her (presumably having found her through the information on the hard disk) and confronts Joanna about her actions before he shows his police detective badge, implying he is ready to arrest her.




In January 2010, Olatunde Osunsanmi boarded the action-thriller film as director for the production company Gold Circle Films, with a screenplay written by Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi.[6] More than a year later, in August 2011, Julian Jarrold was reported to be directing the film instead.[7] In January 2016, Jaume Collet-Serra closed a deal to direct the film, marking his fourth collaboration with Neeson,[8] and also executive produced through Ombra Films, with partner Juan Sola. The film was produced by StudioCanal and The Picture Company.[9]


In September 2015, it was announced that Liam Neeson would star in the film.[10] In June 2016, Vera Farmiga joined, in a role described as "a mysterious woman who boards a commuter train and proposes an enticing opportunity to Neeson's character, one that has dire circumstances if he accepts."[11] The project marks the second working collaboration between Farmiga and Collet-Serra, after 2009's psychological thriller Orphan.[12] On July 13, Sam Neill, Elizabeth McGovern, and Jonathan Banks were added to the principal cast,[13] and in August 2016, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith joined in an undisclosed role.[14] The same month, Patrick Wilson joined the cast as a trusted friend of Neeson's character.[15]


Principal photography began on July 25, 2016, at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, and continued in New York City.[13][16][17] Neeson and McGovern were spotted on the set of the film at Worplesdon railway station in Surrey on September 18, 2016.[18]


In May 2017, it was reported that Roque Baños would compose the film's score.[19] Varèse Sarabande released the soundtrack album digitally in January 2018, with a physical release following on February 9, 2018.[20]

All music composed by Roque Baños.


In November 2015, Lionsgate pre-bought the domestic distribution rights to the film, in a deal with StudioCanal.[21] The Commuter was originally scheduled for release in the United States on October 13, 2017,[13] and was pushed back to January 12, 2018.[22] The film was set for release in the United Kingdom on October 20, 2017 by StudioCanal,[23] and was also pushed back to January 19, 2018, in accordance with the U.S. rescheduling. The film had a limited IMAX release.[24]


Box office

The Commuter grossed $36.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $83.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $119.9 million.[5]

In the United States and Canada, The Commuter was released alongside the openings of Proud Mary and Paddington 2, and the wide expansion of The Post, and was projected to gross $12–14 million from 2,892 theaters in its opening weekend.[25] It made $4.5 million on its first day and $13.7 million over the weekend, on par with previous Neeson-Collet-Serra collaborations, finishing third at the box office behind holdover Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Post.[26] It made $6.6 million in its second weekend, dropping 51.8% and finishing 7th.[27]

Internationally, the film debuted at number two in Germany with $2.6 million.[26] It went on to gross a total of $6.7 million in the country, the biggest market outside the US, as well as $5.6 million in the UK, $5.0 million in France and $2.6 million in Australia.[4]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 56% based on 202 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.43/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Commuter's cast is better than its workmanlike script – which helps make this reasonably diverting Liam Neeson action thriller worth the price of a matinee ticket or rental, if not a full-price ticket."[28] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[26]


  1. "The Commuter Fact Sheet". Lionsgate Press. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  2. "The Passenger". Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  3. "Dernier arrêt". Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  4. Tartaglione, Nancy (February 21, 2018). "'The Commuter' Rides Past $100M At Worldwide Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  5. "The Commuter (2018)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  6. McNary, Dave (January 24, 2010). "'Commuter' driven". Variety.
  7. "Gold Circle Taps 'Red Riding' Director of 'The Commuter'". Bloody Disgusting. August 30, 2011.
  8. McNary, Dave (January 29, 2016). "Liam Neeson's 'Commuter' Draws Jaume Collet-Serra to Direct". Variety.
  9. Fleming Jr, Mike (January 29, 2016). "Jaume Collet-Serra Reunites With Liam Neeson On StudioCanal's 'The Commuter'". Deadline Hollywood.
  10. Fleming Jr, Mike (September 21, 2015). "Liam Neeson To Star In Thriller 'The Commuter' For StudioCanal And The Picture Company". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. Fleming Jr, Mike (June 17, 2016). "Vera Farmiga Follows 'Conjuring 2' By Boarding 'The Commuter' With Liam Neeson". Deadline Hollywood.
  12. McNary, Dave (June 17, 2016). "Vera Farmiga Joins Liam Neeson in Thriller 'The Commuter'". Variety.
  13. Hipes, Patrick (July 13, 2016). "'The Commuter' Adds Trio, Sets October 2017 Arrival In U.S." Deadline Hollywood.
  14. Pederson, Erik (August 9, 2016). "James Remar Joins 'Altar Rock'; Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Tops Paradise Garage Pic". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  15. McNary, Dave (August 23, 2016). "Patrick Wilson Boards Liam Neeson's Thriller 'The Commuter'". Variety. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  16. Daniels, Nia (April 14, 2016). "Liam Neeson thriller to film in London". The Knowledge Online.
  17. Wiseman, Andreas (July 13, 2016). "Liam Neeson action-thriller 'The Commuter' sets shoot and release dates". Screen Daily. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  18. Edwards, Mark (September 19, 2016). "Liam Neeson and co-stars filming at Worplesdon railway station for The Commuter". Get Surrey. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  19. "Roque Banos to Score Jaume Collet-Serra's 'The Commuter'". Film Music Reporter. May 18, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  20. "Varese Sarabande to Release 'The Commuter' Soundtrack". Film Music Reporter. December 29, 2017. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  21. Vlessing, Etan (November 6, 2015). "AFM: Lionsgate Takes U.S. Rights to Liam Neeson's 'The Commuter'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  22. Pederson, Erik (February 23, 2017). "'The Commuter': Lionsgate Moves Liam Neeson Thriller Back Three Months To January". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  23. "Theatrical Release 2016" (PDF). Studio Canal. July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  24. "The Commuter". Launching Films. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  25. Fuster, Jeremy (January 9, 2018). "Can 'The Post' or 'Paddington 2' Knock off 'Jumanji' at MLK Weekend Box Office?". TheWrap. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  26. D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 14, 2018). "'Jumanji' Roars To $34M; 'The Post' Still The Most With $22M+; 'The Commuter' Punches $16M: MLK Weekend Box Office Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
  27. D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 21, 2018). "January Slows As 'Jumanji' Takes No. 1 For 3rd Weekend With $19M To $20M; Older Guy Pics '12 Strong' & 'Den Of Thieves' In Mid-Teens". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  28. "The Commuter (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  29. "The Commuter Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
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