‘The Commuter’ is a mystery thriller film by Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra following Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) as he gets caught up in a deadly conspiracy during his daily commute on a train. The 2018 movie revolves around Michael, a retired NYPD officer who was recently fired from his job as an insurance agent. He is approached by an enigmatic woman (Vera Farmiga), as he sits down in his passenger coach. She offers him $100,000 to locate a target on the train and attach a tracking GPS to them.
He soon finds himself trapped in a deadly game onboard the train, with the players willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent fellow passengers to meet their ends. We witness an enthralling mystery unfold throughout a train journey, taking shocking turns at a moment’s notice. The Tarry Town bound locomotive becomes a battleground for forces Michael barely understands. Witnessing his ordeal, one may wonder where the Liam Neeson starrer was filmed, and if the shooting took place onboard a real train.
The Commuter Shooting Locations
‘The Commuter’ was filmed in New York, California, and in England. Principal photography commenced on July 25, 2016, and was wrapped up by September 18 of the same year. The movie was not shot on an actual train, but a set created in London. Let us look at the specific locations used in setting up scenes for the film.
New York City, New York
The City that Never Sleeps served as the destination for Michael’s train at the beginning of the film. He is seen deboarding at the iconic Grand Central Terminal at Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. As he exits the station, we can spot East 42nd Street located nearby. Before boarding the train home, Michael crosses East 41st and 42nd Street at 101 Park Avenue. The film crew spent just two days shooting in New York City and director Collet-Serra was clear on not filming on real trains.
Citing his experience working with real trains in Berlin, he told BUILD Series, “The worst time in my life I think was on that station in Berlin. It’s so cold, you’re waiting for the train to come in and it wouldn’t come in at the right time. In Berlin, in Germany, they were all late!”
Situated to the northwest of London, Buckinghamshire is a non-metropolitan ceremonial county known for its historical sights and rolling, open terrain. However, The film crew did not visit the region for its scenery, but for a studio containing a stage big enough for a train carriage to be built in. They found their quarry at Pinewood Studios, Pinewood Road, Slough, Iver Heath. A single train carriage is around 80 feet long, which the production team built to scale.
For all the scenes taking place within the train, the same carriage was used with differing conditions. The carriage was suspended in the air, with blue screens all around it to simulate the view outside the window using visual effects. An incredibly sophisticated lighting system was used in the studio to reproduce the time of day and light needed in the scenes. A second stage was used at the studio to create the ends of the carriages for scenes of Michael jumping between them.
A ceremonial county harboring spectacular natural beauty, Surrey is located just southwest of London. The cast and crew set up camp at Longcross Studio, Chobham Lane, Longcross. An open-air stage was used here to build the set of the last passenger car, following the train crash. The scene involved a CGI train carriage crashing and transitioning in alignment with the real-life set using photometry. After which, the set was used to film the deboarding of passengers, and the conclusion of the film’s climax.
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Laying at the junction of the Sacramento River and American River, the state capital, Sacramento, is also known as the city of trees. Its wooded urban landscape and distinct riverside scenery make it an enticing destination for filmmakers. ‘The Commuter’ filmed a few scenes in and around Sacramento, using its placid cityscape as a backdrop.
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