When you combine the claustrophobic confines of a plane, a mad man extorting money from an airline and a grizzled, alcoholic air marshal, you would imagine Non-Stop would be an action packed thriller. However, the Liam Neeson action bus seems to hit a snag and run out of gas or it is being saved for the impending Taken 3 or Run All Night movies coming out sometime in the next year. When Taken was released in 2009 and my friends explained that Liam Neeson was kick-ass in the movie, I laughed and refused to watch Taken. Unfortunately, I was ambushed into seeing Taken 2 and was shockingly surprised by the presence that Liam Neeson had in the role of Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent out to keep his family alive. So I told my friends “hey, I was wrong, Liam Neeson was kick-ass in Taken 2” but I still refused to watch Taken, getting the gist in Taken 2. When the trailer for Non-Stop hit the web, I figured I would give it a try and hope that this film would be as intriguing as Red Eye without the gimmicks that came with Flightplan.
The premise of Non-Stop is summed up very nicely in trailer: air marshal, Bill Marks, receives threatening texts that people will be killed every 20 minutes until the “hijacker” receives $150 million dollars. However, Bill is being set up and must figure out who the hijacker is in the narrow confines of the airplane.
There is the usual assortment of suspects who either are red herrings or the actual hijacker, and Marks must weed through each person to determine the real threat. The list of suspects includes the token “Arab” character (Omar Metwally), the nervous school teacher who chats Bill up while waiting for their flight (Scoot McNairy), the all-too helpful passenger/love interest (Julianne Moore) sitting next to Marks on the plane, a cop who becomes the de-facto leader of the passengers (Corey Stoll) and the flight attendant who has flown with Marks several times (Michelle Dockery). There are so many twists in this movie in terms of figuring out who is the actual hijacker, and after a while, you stop caring who it could be. The reveal and motivations are a little clichéd in this post-9/11 world but I guess it must have tested well. The supporting cast is well-rounded out by Nate Parker, Linus Roache, Lupita Nyong’o, Anson Mount, and Jason Butler Harner.
The one thing that I think sets Non-Stop apart from Taken is the fact that Neeson’s character is a sad-sack. Alcoholic and troubled, Marks does not command the respect of the passengers and the crew which actually makes it very easy to set him up as the fall guy. However, Marks does make good use of the resources that he does have at his disposal: the senior flight attendant and his seatmate who help him whittle down the passengers to determine the hijacker. You do get some intense fight sequences that have become standard for a Neeson action film.
The highlight of the film was the landing sequence which was actually pretty cool. I liked the interactions between Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. Moore has the ability to become a chameleon in most of her roles. She does a good job of being so enticing and mysterious that you are left guessing on her role in the hijacking.
So by now, you want to know if you should spend your money on the film. If you are a Liam Neeson fan and made it through Unknown, you will like the film. Considering the limited options this weekend, I think that Non-Stop will do better than 3 Days to Kill and Pompeii.