Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) has a decision to make in The Post. (20th Century Fox image)

Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) has a decision to make in The Post. (20th Century Fox image)

Reel Reviews: The Commuter arrives, but The Post delivers

We say, “The Post is taut and electric. The Commuter is clever.”

After the death of her husband, Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) becomes the first female publisher of her newspaper, The Washington Post.

When editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is able to get his hands on Pentagon papers detailing how four Whitehouse administrations deceived the American public to continue losing the Vietnam war, the two of them must work together to defend the freedom of the press.

In The Commuter, ordinary businessman Michael MacCauley (Liam Neeson) is forced to play a part in a criminal conspiracy that takes place during his train ride from work.

We say, “The Post is taut and electric. The Commuter is clever.”

TAYLOR: I loved The Post. There was only one brief scene, where Kay Graham is talking about her transition from widow to publisher, that dispelled the tension running through this live wire of a film. There are so many aspects to this story worthy of displaying: the journalistic espionage, the war, the government(s), the 1970s, American royalty, class, gender roles, the law, your rights, history. Wrap this up with Stephen Spielberg directing, in a film written so as not to spoon feed audiences and you are treated to something that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. I really felt like I was part of the newsroom, constantly bustling through tension, searching out truth.

HOWE: Neeson is great in these types of roles, to me he is the perfect action man, he is not muscle-clad, his acting isn’t that cheesy, (it is a little). He always looks like an everyday bloke and blends in with the rest of the world. The Commuter reminds me of a movie he did a few years back, Non-Stop. The only difference being he is now on a train instead of a plane. This is a fast-paced, well-acted and clever action thriller. It was a nice change to have this style of movie, where instead of figuring out who the killer is he had to figure out who the witness was. The characters are well portrayed, there is enough high-speed fighting to keep the most die-hard action fan happy and it will have you guessing until the end who are the good and bad guys. It kept me entertained all the way through.

TAYLOR: The ensemble cast in The Post was great. I was really pleased by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross disappearing into their reporter roles. I didn’t realize it was Cross until he spoke. Hanks is an actor that can make you believe he is the character, but in The Post, like everyone else, Hanks is playing a real person. I don’t know if he’s imitating Bradlee well or not, but I can see that he’s talking, walking and holding his face in untypical ways and that’s good enough for me. Streep is very, well Streepy in her character’s privileged bashfulness, a crumbling upper crust, but she’s perfectly acceptable. Still, as I know that everything you’re seeing and hearing in this film is intentional, my accolades are all saved for the writers and director of this film. The Post shows before it tells. It is an excellent movie.

Taylor gives The Post 5 presses out of 5.

Howe gives The Commuter 3 wedding rings out of 5.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon.