I’ve noticed a troubling trend of “old man” action stars in the past five years. Ever since Expendables (2010) came out, many of the action stars of my youth have attempted to reignite their action careers. Nostalgia aside, there is only so much disbelief I am willing to accept at the movies. Sylvester Stallone (67) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (66) breaking out of a maximum security prison and defeating a small army? Sorry, no. Somehow, Liam Neeson has not quite hit the point of unbelievability for me. I blame the movie Taken or perhaps his role as Aslan in the Narnia movies. Whatever the reason, when Neeson takes down the bad guys, I’m on board (get it, because this movie takes place on a plane… no? Okay.)
Liam Neeson is back beating up bad guys and taking names.
Non-Stop is the story of air marshal Bill Marks who is forced to spring into action after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow transatlantic flight passengers at risk. Neeson’s character was much more well rounded than I expected. It would have been easy for the writers to make him nearly invulnerable, as is often the case with action heroes. Mark’s has a compelling back story full of loss, alcoholism and pain that make his character much more well rounded and sympathetic. Julianne Moore plays an excellent supporting role to Neeson, giving him a confidant among a plane of suspects. Though it could easily be argued that she followed far too unswervingly to this man she had only just met, her character was well played and likable. Some other notable appearances come in the forms of Scoot McNairy (Argo, Killing Them Softly), Michelle Dockery (Hanna, Downtown Abbey) and Corey Stoll (House of Cards, Bourne Legacy). All played their roles well enough but were overall one-dimensional characters.
Considering the fact that the writers Richardson, Roach, and Engle seemed to get their script straight from the Action / Suspense / Thriller playbook, Non-Stop still managed to surprise me several times. There were several plot developments that caught me off guard and sucked me back in just when I had lost interest in a scene. This is one of the strengths of Non-Stop; new things are constantly happening and your inner sleuth is constantly being challenged in his sleuthery (real word?). That being said, it was hard for me to overlook how conveniently everything worked out for the terrorists on board the plane. There were too many variables in play for their plan to have worked out so perfectly. It was also hard for me to get on board with the use of on screen texting (similar to House of Cards) used to communicate with the terrorists throughout the film. Though several of these scenes were shot in very interesting ways, they somehow lacked the emotional investment I feel they could have had if spoken.
Non-stop lives up to its’ name. Though borrowing heavily from 90’s gems like Passenger 57 and Executive Decision, Non-stop still manages to hold your attention. As the plot unfolds, there is a constant sense of tension, intrigue, and guessing that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Though riddled with convenient plot developments, poor CG,I and one dimensional characters, I couldn’t help but white knuckle my way through the more tense scenes. Even with all of the problems I’ve mentioned, Non-Stop still came out triumphantly. I genuinely enjoyed this movie. Don’t go in expecting an Oscar winner, but if you’re a fan of action, Liam Neeson, and whodunnit style movies, then Non-Stop is worth a watch.
It should be said that this movie, though rated PG-13, would not be great for kids. There is a decent amount of language, violence, and hints of sex. For a complete rundown check out the Plugged in Online Review.