Having already employed his particular set of skills to police the friendly skies, the open seas, and the Alaskan tundra, Liam Neeson turns his attention to New York’s Metro-North commuter rail line in his latest action movie, The Commuter. Only it’s not really the Metro-North; in the film, the railway is called the Hudson North (run by the Hudson Metro Authority as opposed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority) and while it still operates along the Hudson River — ferrying passengers from far-flung river towns like Beacon and Tarrytown to Grand Central Station — the HMA offers a very different transit experience from the one I enjoy every weekday via the MTA.
It’s not just the fact that my commute doesn’t typically involve Neeson strolling up and down the aisles, grabbing passengers’ phones, punching other people in the face, and gifting former Goldman Sachs employees with a hearty “F**k you!” (If it did, I’d never need to entertain myself with books or podcasts.) No, the Hudson North trains also come equipped with some features that we Metro-North riders can only dream about. So chin up, Liam! Sure, a mystery villain may be forcing you to take part in a conspiracy to murder a stranger on your train, but here are five ways that you enjoy a better commute than those of us in the real world.
1. The Hudson North makes bonus stops
Not in a hurry to leave Manhattan? Then don’t board the Metro-North’s Hudson line to get uptown, which only pauses at 125th Street station before crossing over into the Bronx and all points north. The Hudson North, on the other hand, offers a more leisurely paced trip that includes stops at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue as well as 110th Street — both of which are on the 4/5/6 lines on the actual New York transit map — for those commuters looking to enjoy some Upper East Side culture and/or nightlife before heading back to the ‘burbs. On the other hand, at least you can count on the Metro North to take you all the way home. Neeson’s Hudson North train terminates at Cold Spring, which is four stops before the real end of the line terminal in Poughkeepsie. Guess that’s what Uber is for! (Speaking of which, when are we getting Liam Neeson’s Uber-based action movie?)
2. Tables are your friend
In the interest of packing as many people onto the train as possible, Metro-North cars eliminate surfaces, thus forcing passengers to keep their hot coffee, half-eaten bagels and newspapers they’re only pretending to read on their laps, the floor or another person’s seat. So kudos to the Hudson North for thoughtfully providing commuters with a café car where they can comfortably kibitz, play cards and, every now and then, toss a bad guy over a table. The train also may or may not house a fully stocked bar, as Neeson’s fellow passenger Jonathan Banks at one point suggests that they grab a beer for the ride ahead. Not coincidentally, The Commuter is also a movie that’s best enjoyed following copious beer consumption.
3. Who doesn’t love a pristine latrine?
It’s the eternal commuter dilemma: do you venture into the public bathrooms in Grand Central Station or take a chance that the bathroom aboard your Metro-North train comes equipped with a stocked soap dispenser and a sliding door that actually slides shut? Or — and this is the typical answer — do you just hold it for the 45- to 60-minute ride it takes you to get home? Hudson North riders don’t have to make that kind of calculation, because they enter airy restrooms that feature hand-dryers, a shining steel commode, and, best of all, working vents that keep the air circulating and provide you with a place to stash thousands of dollars in cash. It’s a latrine so clean that, as others have pointed out, Neeson feels comfortable crawling around on his hands and knees on the floor and doesn’t immediately shower himself in hand sanitizer afterwards.
4. There’s plenty of dead body storage
We already addressed the lack of table space on the Metro-North, but as anyone who has ever taken the train around the holidays knows, there’s also not a lot of room for oversized luggage beyond the fairly small overhead racks. The Hudson North solves that problem by leaving a giant empty space in the back of its cars where more seats would go. But that empty space isn’t wasted! Beneath the floor lies a compartment situated above the wheels of the train that’s big enough to stash extra bags — or, you know, a dead body — from prying eyes. Heck, if the HMA wanted to make a little extra money, they could put a mattress down there and bill it as an exclusive nap space.
5. Race ya onboard!
Miss your Hudson North train back to Cold Spring by mere seconds? Don’t worry — as Neeson ably demonstrates, you can channel your inner 1930s hobo by hopping aboard the train from the tracks. Metro-North passengers, of course, are prevented from alighting this way thanks to the enclosed vestibules that allow folks to move easily back and forth between cars. Vestibules are fewer and far between on the Hudson North — budget cuts, ya know — so some cars have doors that open directly to the outdoors. At the same time, the lack of consumer safety really does lead to more consumer choice. Choices like, “Do I jump onboard the train or would I rather not die?”
The Commuter is in theaters now.
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