The Commuter is the ultimate white-knuckle ride of a film. Michael, an insurance salesman on his routine daily commute home, is contacted by a mysterious stranger who forces him to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on his train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding and is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy. One that carries life and death stakes for himself and his fellow passengers.
Cinesite delivered over 850 shots for this fast-paced action thriller, from train carriage composites right through to entirely CG shots for the spectacular climactic train crash sequence. The crash required the construction of a 2km long environment asset complete with station, forest, tracks and industrial detritus. FX were key, with flying gravel, breaking and deforming tracks, exploding sleepers, fog, dust, smoke and fire in addition to the damaged train carriages. Other shots required a realistic Neeson digi-double to perform death-defying stunts.
The visual effects team also created shots near the film’s opening which demonstrate the repetition of Michael’s daily commute. In a poignant shot at Grand Central Station multiple iterations of Michael’s journey are shown simultaneously, with the crowds gradually accelerating around him while his pace remains measured. His outfit changes and the mood lighting changes to show the passing of the seasons around him.
The shot was achieved with a combination of multiple motion control passes, creation of the iconic station environment using photogrammetry and ultimately by creating the crowd of fellow commuters in CG for the latter part of the shot (a seamless transition was required between the live action passes and the CG people).
VFX supervisor for the production was Steve Begg, and Cinesite’s supervisor was Stephane Paris; work was shared across both the London and Montreal studios.