It may not be non-stop awesome, but it’s non-stop popcorn fun.
Ah, Liam Neeson. He’s the new action hero guy. It seemed like a weird direction for him to take his career, but I have to admit, I’m enjoying it. And clearly he isn’t prepared to leave the genre just yet, because here we have his latest outing, Non-Stop, a thriller aboard a trans-continental flight. It may not be non-stop awesome, but it’s non-stop popcorn fun.
Neeson plays Federal Air Marshal Bill Marks. He’s ahd it rough lately, losing his daughter to illness, marriage ending, and frankly he’s an Air Marshal because he more or less had to leave his job as a cop because all this stuff got him to drinking VERY Irish coffees in the morning. He’s on a trans-Atlantic flight from New York to London just to keep an eye on what will likely be an uneventful flight. Of course, not long after take off, Bill starts getting texts on his secure government line cell phone from someone on board the plane. Bill is told that if he doesn’t get 150 million dollars transferred into a certain account, someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes. Hey, no pressure.
Non-Stop isn’t exactly non-stop action like the trailers might have you believe. It’s really more of a thriller whodunnit. Marks has to figure out who is sending him these texts, and we spend a fair amount of the hour and 45 minute running time doing that. Maybe too much time, but at least writers John Richardson and Chris Roach (strangely lots of reality TV under their belts) keep us guessing with a myriad of potential suspects. It’s a plane full of red herrings, but it should keep you scratching your head long enough. And there is some action along the way, and hey, turns out we love to watch Liam Neeson kicking ass. If Taken has taught us anything, it’s that.
After all that guess work, when they do finally reveal the culprit, it’s not as shocking as you want it to be, and the motivation for their actions is a little in your face, but something Bill Marks says will make you take it with a smile. That’s sort of indicative of the whole film, really. It’s kind of a proposterous premise and they throw some ridiculous stuff at you throughout – like the old bullet through the plane window and suddenly everythign is chaos. Well, that just doesn’t happen in real world physics. MythBusters proved that already a few season ago. But nonetheless, they use that element here and it’s all sort of ok because it’s all infun and I think they knew that when they made this. It’s all about the crazy scene where Marks grabs his gun out of mid-air while in a zero G moment. Ridiculous genius.
Hell, you can sort of see where things might go as eventually the tension gets high on the plane when the passengers start to wonder if Marks is the bad guy here and is hijacking the flight himself. And the passengers? You’ll recognize tons of them from various other shows, films, or maybe even the guy you see walking his dog in your neighborhood. Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Linus Roache, Lupita Nyong’o, Anson Mount (Hell On Wheels), the list goes on. And everybody sells their parts here, even if they don’t have much to do.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra worked with Neeson previously on the decent Unknown and he made that goofy movie Orphan about the creepy girl that was really a creepy 30 year old. This is definitely more enjoyable than that. Frankly, Non-Stop may not be all that great, but it’s pretty fun if you let go of stuff. Because Collet-Serra, Neeson, and probably Juliette Moore as Marks business class seatmate, Jen, seem to know full well that this film is a bit ludicrous. For instance, when Marks receives texts, they float up on the screen. And at one point, he is reading texts on a broken phone and all the expletives are obscured by the broken screen. Nice job keeping away from the R rating, folks. And Moore’s breezy performance is a good contrast to Neeson intense urgency. She almost acts as if this kind of stuff happens to her al the time.
I can’t help but say I was entertained by Non-Stop. Will it win awards or even be remembered by next Fall? Likely not. But I enjoyed it as a popcorn movie and that’s all I’m going to ask of it, or of Liam Neeson. A solid three kittenhands for frivolous entertainment.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, not liking this as much as the first Taken, but you could do a lot worse.