Written by Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Non-Stop may defy gravity, forsake the laws of physics, and ignore reality but it was a damn good time. If the question you ask yourself before seeing Non-Stop, “Is this a great movie?” the answer is no, if you are looking to be entertained then who else to do that in the middle of a bad late winter slate of movies than Liam Neeson. Neeson continues to appeal to the masses as a major action hero, playing a troubled air marshal who is accused of hijacking an airplane after someone begins to murder passengers. Non-Stop is exciting even if it forgets to make better use of a good supporting cast.
In a post-Taken universe where one of the most bankable action heroes has become Liam Neeson, it’s no surprise that an airplane thriller was next up for the Taken star. Neeson can act, and for the most part he does a good job even if it’s his threatening tone and the fact that he can play a broken man quite well. In Non-Stop he plays Bill Marks, an Air-Marshall who is also a troubled alcoholic. Marks also struggles with a minor fear of flying which becomes the least of his worries after he receives a text message from a passenger who claims they will begin killing one passenger every twenty minutes. Bill seems to be the only person who takes the threat seriously, as he moves to find the intruder the less people seem to believe him. There are no shortage of action movie tropes and clichés used by Director Jaume Collet-Serra along with editor turned screen writer John W. Richardson and Producer turned writer Christopher Roach (Both Richardson and Roach worked together on such projects as ABC’s Wipeout and Big Brother). Collet-Serra (Orphan, House of Wax) reunites with Neeson after the two worked on Unknown in 2011, it’s a reunion that again asks a lot from its lead and begs audiences to brave through those clichés and the forsaking of the laws of gravity, physics, and reality so they can tell this absolutely bonkers story. All of that being said, no matter how cliché the movie becomes the original idea of an Air Marshal who is being accused of Hijacking a flight he is trying to save is intriguing enough that most people will suffer through those to at least enjoy the film. The best thing Non-Stop allows a viewer to be apart of the film by forcing us to guess who the bad guy is for nearly the whole 106 minute run time. (I guessed correctly about half way through but it really isn’t as obvious as it may seem.)
Non-Stop has a few things going right for it, most of those are Liam Neeson and his supporting cast that includes Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Scoot McNairy (Argo), Julianne Moore (Carrie, Don Jon), Shea Whigham (American Hustle, True Detective) and a underutilized Oscar winner in Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). For being such a fantastic cast the movie still seems to put most of its weight on Neeson, Dockery, and Moore even if the relationship between Michelle Dockery and Liam Neeson is never explained and Moore is a passenger who is both helpful and suspicious in the eyes of Liam Neeson. For having such a cast you’d hope they would have found a way to allow them to be more of a part of the story, instead Corey Stoll plays a not so cooperative passenger, so does McNairy, and Shea Whigham only appears on screen for 2 minutes at the end of the film but he is the untrusting boss of Bill Marks who only appears in the film over the phone. Nyong’o seems to have shot Non-Stop before her 12 Years a Slave fame which seems to be the reason why she shows up, disappears, shows up, and disappears throughout the film and doesn’t take a real role in the proceedings.
Non-Stop is not a bad movie, it keeps you guessing with a fantastic plot and thrilling sequences even if it does suffer through storytelling, dialogue, and character clichés. The only thing that would have made it better was allowing Neeson to embody his Harrison Ford-esque performance by uttering the line “GET OFF MY PLANE” sadly he does not. For some reason Non-Stop was fun, it was intense, thrilling and unlike most of the bad movies we have watched this winter it was not a bad time. Maybe it’s Liam Neeson, maybe because it seemed like a creative breath of fresh air, or maybe I have just watched too many bad action movies hit movie theaters in the months of January –March throughout the years and I am easier to please but whatever it is I enjoyed Non-Stop. (So did America pulling in $29 million on its opening weekend). If you like seeing Liam Neeson threating people and kicking some butt then Non-Stop is probably for you as well.