Fourth-time collaborators Liam Neeson & Jaume Collet-Serra had a bit of a break after the appropriately named Run All Night. It was time to make another movie.
Liam: So, I was thinking –
Jaume: Way ahead of you – remember Non-Stop?
Jaume: Well, what if we did another movie like that?
Liam: I don’t know if I want to do another plane movie
Jaume: Not another plane movie – this one, it’s completely different. We’re gonna put you, I’m excited, we haven’t done this before… on a boat!
Liam: Hmm, but what about Battleship?
Jaume: Battleship. Right
Liam: Not trying to be difficult, it’s just, you know, I already kind of did a boat movie
Liam: We could, you know, set it in a skyscraper, or a lorry, or a train, or a –
Jaume: Train! I love it!
Liam: Can I use my real voice in this one, I’ve had to do a lot of accents lately
Jaume: Sure, we’ll just throw in a line about your character being from Ireland, we’ll call you Michael or something – Michael MacCauley – we’ll use that for now, you haven’t played a Michael before have you?
Liam: I played Michael Collins
Jaume: Anyway, my idea is to make you an everyman –
Liam: I’m not CIA, or an Air Marshall, or something?
Jaume: We can say that you were a cop, but now you’re a regular Joe, you sell insurance, or something
Liam: And what am I doing on the train?
Jaume: You’re commuting, and then you tell a stranger that you’ll do something, for money, there’s a bag of money on the train, and then you get in trouble
Liam: And then I have to save the people on the train?
Liam: And no one will know what’s really going on?
Liam: Including me?
Liam: Who else is in it?
Jaume: We’ve got Patrick Wilson, and Jonathan Banks, from Breaking Bad
Jaume: Vera Farmiga’s on board, and Sam Neill!
Liam: I thought Sam was doing a bunch of other stuff
Jaume: He’s only in it for a little bit, you’ll barely notice him. We also need someone from Game of Thrones – that’s what everyone’s doing
Liam: I know Dean-Charles Chapman?
Liam: The kid who plays Tommen, he could be my son
Jaume: That’s good enough. We could use at least one more really good non-American actor – it doesn’t have to be a big role. Have you heard of Roland Moller?
Liam: From Land of Mine? He’s great!
Jaume: Did you see that movie Lady Macbeth? I know Florence, can see if she’s free, could use that indie cred
Liam: Isn’t this getting a little crowded?
Jaume: It’s a train – we’ll find space
Liam: Speaking of space – I know Shazad from the new Star Trek
Jaume: Haven’t seen it
Liam: It’s really good – you’ll like it. But what should I tell him?
Jaume: Oh he can be a… stockbroker, or funds manager, one of those guys attached to an earpiece
Liam: I still don’t get why I have to save everyone
Jaume: We don’t find out till later, basically you have to find a passenger or bad things start happening, which means you have to get to know everyone on the train while exposing the bad guy – think Murder on the Orient Express meets North by Northwest, only with a bunch of millenials
Liam: Will the train crash?
Jaume: Sure, I think we can afford it. We’ll also need you to climb out of the train at some point, and probably throw someone off the car
Liam: We could do some really great one-liners there
Jaume: We’ll think of something, trust me.
Liam: Can someone say something like “Next time, I’m taking the bus”?
Jaume: Don’t you think that’s too on the nose?
Jaume: Yep we’ll do that
The Commuter (aka Liam Neeson on a Train, aka Non-Stop to Putnam, aka Rail All Night), a thoroughly enjoyable and at times hyper-Hitchcockian action-thriller from the ever reliable Neeson, complete with a plot that is by no means perfect but perfectly serves its purpose, is in cinemas now. If you have a choice between this and Murder on the Orient Express, there’s a reason these guys have made four films together and after this will (hopefully) make a fifth.