This is the fourth collaboration between director Juame Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson following “Unknown”, “Non-Stop” and “Run All Knight”. That means that certain things are guaranteed; action, adventure, Neeson administering a beating to a gallery of rogues and all delivered with a certain little style.
Let’s clear something up before we go any further, I am well aware that these films are flawed and are unlikely to be showered with praise by the good folks at Sight & Sound or shortlisted for awards by the Academy. That’s fine. The world needs fun and popcorn as much as it needs subtitles and couscous.
Neeson plays former cop Michael MacCauley, a dedicated family man and someone with a very clearly defined sense of what is right and wrong. Every day he catches the same train to work, making small talk with the other regulars on the way. After losing his job he is approached on the train by the enigmatic Joanna (Vera Farmiga) who introduces herself as a psychologist before asking Michael to participate in an experiment. She asks him to find the one person on the train who doesn’t belong before it reaches its final destination. In exchange he will receive $100,000.
The game is on and what follows is a pleasing thrill ride that owes a great deal to Hitchcock. The money and the stranger are the “MacGuffin”, there are several scenes in confined spaces, there is a blonde…
For sure there are flaws and plot holes throughout but it’s all delivered at such a breakneck pace and a knowing sense of how silly it all is that it’s entirely possible to just sit back, dip into the large popcorn you’ve bought and enjoy things.