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The Commuter (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Jaume Collet-Serra may not be a marquee director or a household name, but he’s been doing some overall solid work this decade. Probably one of the tops when it comes to the mid-budget adult thriller, he’s coming hot off his Blake Lively horror film The Shallows and reteaming with Liam Neeson. The Commuter marks their fourth collaboration following Non-Stop, Run All Night and Unknown. During early rounds of press Neeson says his action hero chapter of his career would be coming to an end with this film, but he may have back tracked that a little. This film opened during Jumanji’s reign and managed to cross over one hundred million dollars worldwide by the end of its run. You’ll find it available for physical at home consumption on April 17. 

Film 

Insurance salesman Michael is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the moving train.

Jaume Collet-Sera now has himself a trilogy of confined space thrillers. Following Non-Stop and The Shallows, The Commuter finds us on a train. Not quite of the more action based Under Siege 2: Dark Territory variety, but in a more lower key Source Code kinda way. This one plays very much in tone and character like Non-Stop did that it almost could be a spiritual sequel to that film. Heck, maybe Collet-Sera and Neeson could team up for one where a man has to solve a mystery on a Cruise ship next.

While spacing is limited and the overall plot of the movie isn’t involving lots of more traditional conventions of a heftier action movie, there are some really cool fight sequences on the train. In particular, there is one that goes for it with a supposed single take brawl that spans a good amount of time. When things do happen at intermittent points in the plot of the movie, Collet-Sera makes them pretty effective and also makes sure they feel like they count.

This thriller isn’t high art, nor is it aiming to be such, but there are some shortcomings with it that kinda hold it back from elevating to the heights that Non-Stop delivered. Every main performer in the film is pretty terrific, but there are some surprisingly beginner level dialogue exchanges in the film. The first scene between Liam Neeson and Patrick Wilson almost feels like a sort of light audition for an amateur play or a class on writing screenplays. Also, if you’re a movie fan and can spot potential plot or character developments by way of casting, then this movie is going to have you on a ticking clock for a good portion of it for something you’re going to be right about.

Liam Neeson’s latest has him delivering the goods as he always does, just in a bit of a weaker entry in his action canon. He has some terrific supporting players like Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Sam Neill in the cast, but they are barely utilized. Regardless, Neeson carries his own and there are a few surprisingly engaging action sequences in a little bit of a predictable thriller on a train. Its a decent Saturday afternoon watch for those who are into it and makes a solid little companion to Non-Stop.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p) HDR-10

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  The Commuter comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, having been shot in 3.4K with a 4K DI for its master. It looks really crisp and well rounded with plenty of detail abound on the train car from wear and tear to the patterns and textures on clothing and sets.

Depth:  There is a really nice depth of field on display here throughout the train between the foreground and background. It has an almost three dimensional appeal. Movements are smooth, natural and handle the rapid action with no distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and very well saturated. Its able to maintain and hold onto great amount of details in the darkness. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very natural and hold a bold look. HDR is used mainly with little lights, phone glow and fire.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features like sweat, wrinkles, stubble, dried blood, cuts and more come through clear form any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Commuter sports a very fun Dolby Atmos track. Most of the film takes place in a very confined atmosphere and it truly feels every bit of being on the train. Its a wonderfully put together mix with sound effects well layered adding great depth and adding a lifelike appeal as if you’re sitting on the commute yourself. Its balanced quite well with the vocals and the score to give a nice full experience.

Height: Above provides some really fun and natural actions to add to the fun of the train car.  A bullet fired during a struggle lands up above as the screen portrays. Lots of shaking and rustling happens above as well.

Low Frequency Extension: The train engine chugging along, gunfire, punches and other action moments bump your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Helping bring the train to life is every channel precisely built in to bring unique sounds and create accuracy throughout the environment. Movements occur in all directions and make you feel the motion.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear, crisp and plenty audible at all turns and sound natural in their environments.

Extras 

The Commuter comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film.

End of the Line (HD, 9:15) – A little EPK featurette with cast and crews interviews and some behind the scenes footage.

Off the Rails (HD, 4:18) – This featurette is a little more focused on the set, or shooting space, utilized in the film and the challenges that come with its confined size and creativity in delivering the action sequences.

Summary 

The Commuter is solid enough to get on by in being some nice mid-range adult entertainment. Lionsgate’s 4K Ultra-HD Blur-ay release of it is pretty solid with a fun Atmos track that really brings the train car to life. The extras really aren’t too much to write home about. For a good deal, this is a pretty decent pick up for fans of the action-man Liam Neeson movies.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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