Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Lupita Nyong'o
Just look at that movie poster. It's got Liam Neeson flying through the air, gun in hand, and the oxygen masks have been deployed. You know all hell has broken loose on that flight. Let's go back a bit. Federal Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) is boarding a non-stop flight to London and comes in contact with numerous passengers on his way to board. He keeps a close eye on them giving them a full body mental scan as he encounters them in the bathroom or at the gate. He is naturally skeptical about all of them and we are all supposed to believe they are shady and untrustworthy. Isn’t everyone that boards a plane up to no good? He runs into the Amsterdam bound Tom Bowen (McNairy) who seems kind of nerdy. Frequent traveler Jen Summers (Moore) is determined to have a window seat and will switch with anyone to make that happen.
The flight takes off without a hitch, but it is not long before Marks starts receiving threatening text messages over the secured network. The texts demand that $150 million be transferred to an unknown account. If that doesn’t happen within twenty minutes, someone aboard the plane will die and the deaths will continue every twenty minutes until the money has been transferred. Marks is the diligent type that takes every threat serious no matter what the other air marshal on board or the TSA have to say about it. The situation grows even more precarious for Marks once he is informed that the bank account is registered under his name. Our hero has now turned into American’s most wanted once the media get wind of the situation.
Alright, folks, let’s have a Come to Jesus moment here. It’s early March and we are just getting over all of the heavy Oscar material. What is better than a no-brainer action flick that you can have fun with?!?! What else do you expect from a movie called Non-Stop? It’s clearly taking naming lessons from Speed and Taken. I mean, come on! These are super original titles. If you go into the latest Liam Neeson action thriller looking for something original that will change your life, you will only come out disappointed. Again, I remind you, it’s called NON-STOP. You have to go in expecting it to be somewhat ludicrous. You have to suspend your belief that everything is going to make perfect sense and that rules of logic and practicality are going to be thrown out the window.
When you take all of that into consideration, the film completely delivers on what it sets out to do. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Unknown) knows exactly the kind of movie he is making. Of course there are going to be a few 180 degree camera slow-motion camera tricks. We also get that classic shot where a gun is thrown into the air in slow motion with Liam Neeson grabbing it at just the right angle to fire off a shot. The film boasts three screenwriters who all have minimal credits to their name on IMDb. They include some little twists and turns to try to keep Marks and the rest of the audience off guard as he tries to figure out who the terrorist could be. They write the majority of the supporting characters with enough shady discord that anyone could be a suspect along the way. Thank God Lupita Nyong'o (Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave) and Michelle Dockery ("Downtown Abbey's" Lady Mary!) are left as innocent flight attendants just trying to help out. There are some campy lines of dialogue along the way that induce a bit of laughter, but Neeson, Moore, and crew keep their acting in check without ever reaching the Nicolas Cage level of over-the-top-it's-the-end-of-the-world style acting.
Liam Neeson has been working NON-STOP these past few years especially in these action films like Taken, Taken 2, and Unknown. He's also had supporting work in The Dark Knight trilogy, the Clash of the Titans movies, The Grey, and The Lego Movie. His career has taken a very different turn compared to the roles he was playing when he first made his mark on the big screen. Some of his choices may not always work out in his favor like Battleship or The A-Team, but I give him credit for working in a variety of genres and series while only hitting a few roadblocks along the way. Non-Stop is by no means an original masterpiece of creative twists and turns, but it knows that. Again, I remind you that it's called Non-Stop. Do I punish a movie for not elevating itself to some other higher loftier standard? In this case, I do not. It sets out to be an entertaining fun ride. Mission accomplished. In fact, it makes me want to go out and watch some of those other Neeson action flicks.
Is it worth your trip to the movies? Yes, especially if you are in the mood for a no-brainer action flick to take your mind off things
RATING: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)