Non-Stop

Non-Stop photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgIn the grand tradition of aviation movies like Red Eye and Flightplan comes Non-Stop. Star Liam Neeson is clearly in his comfort zone playing, what else, a badass. Okay so he’s in fact a U.S. Federal Air Marshal. But Bill Marks has a past. His daughter died when she was 8 and his wife has since divorced him. He’s an alcoholic AND he smokes too. These days smoking cigarettes is pretty much the same thing as shooting up heroin as far as the cinema is concerned. So we’re already wary of him. He even duct tapes the vents in the airplane lavoratory so he can light up without tripping the smoke detectors. Yet he gives us reason to care. Liam Neeson is incredibly charismatic as the lead character. Let’s face it. Taken and Unknown have given the actor enough practice where he can now play a tough, but likable, ultra-cool mofo in his sleep. And I got to hand it to the guy.  He’s in his 60s and he’s carved a nice little niche in these action roles where others have failed at this age.  Sorry Arnold.

Speaking of Unknown, Non-Stop reunites the star with the same director, Jaume Collet-Serra. I like the director’s style. He’s a dependable type that knows how to keep the chronicle moving so we are never bored (or reflect on the plausibility of what is happening). Most of the picture takes place in the tiny cramped, quarters of an airline cabin and you could hardly pick a more tense environment in our post 9/11 world.  Midway on a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, Marks begins receiving cryptic text message on his personal phone. The anonymous intruder demands $150 million dollars to be transferred into a secure account or a passenger will die every 20 minutes.

The screenwriters have stockpiled the trip with a sampling of cultural identities and temperaments to make the guessing game a bit more confusing. Every time someone gives a dirty look (and there are a lot), we’re meant to think, “It’s him! It’s him! It’s totally him!” The shifting blame of who’s responsible is fairly effective.  Neeson is surrounded by an engaging cast. I was surprised to see Lupita Nyong’o as a flight attendant . This year’s Supporting Actress Oscar winner took the part after filming 12 Years a Slave but before her performance was received with universal acclaim. Her generic role here allows her to utter maybe 3 lines. I suspect she can say goodbye to being cast in this fashion from now on.

As developments happen, and the evidence starts to pile up, Bill Marks himself appears to be culprit. That secure account for example? It’s in his own name. Is this all an elaborate set up to make him appear guilty or is he indeed the villain. Without giving anything away, I was convinced I knew “whodunit” only to be proven wrong in the end. That’s not because this is a smartly written, coherent mystery, but because the story doesn’t really play fair with the audience. It obscures information it doesn’t want you to have, then throws in red herrings that cloud the truth even further. Given that a substantial amount of time involves him receiving text messages from the extortionist, you’d think that all he’d have to do is merely watch the passengers to see who keeps texting him. He actually attempts to do this at one point, but apparently he isn’t thorough enough because it leads to absolutely nothing. I’m being overly critical however. I don’t want to give the impression that I wasn’t entertained. I was, immensely in fact. This is a nifty little thriller that will captivate your attention for most of its running time. It’s very enjoyable. It’s just that by the end when everything is made known, you kind of feel betrayed. The reveal doesn’t really equal the sum total of the clues that we’ve seen. But eh I liked it anyway.

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24 Responses to “Non-Stop”

  1. Perfect review, I had the very same feeling at the end. You feel a little cheated, but for the majority of the time this was a pretty exciting and intense game! I’m glad you enjoyed as well.

  2. Nice review Mark , thanks for your good work.

    I think I saw a video interview with Neeson where he said that this plane was a mockup and it was in Queens, NY where they did the bulk of the filming..

    Last week, I did a coin toss with this one and Costner’s 3 Days to Kill. I ended up seeing 3DTK as it won the coin toss.

    But now I’ll have to see this one as it is getting some nice reviews.

  3. Though I knew it was pretty dumb and ridiculous, I still couldn’t help but have a little bit of fun with this. Especially since most of the fun is in just figuring who the baddie is, and for what reasons. Good review Mark.

  4. Great review! Unknown was fun so I could give this a chance. Liam Neeson is pretty badass, too. Also, want to spot Lupita Nyong’o. Hope she gets great roles and does not fall prey to the Oscar curse.

  5. I must see this. Love Liam Neeson (for the most part), and had absolutely no clue he was in his 60s! Wow… Too bad Nyong’o was so underused though. Great review Mark.

    Envoyé de mon iPhone

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    • I had no idea she was even in this. Non-Stop was basically the Liam Neeson show anyway. Everyone played second fiddle to him.

      • Haha that DOES sound like most Liam Neeson movies. Even in his brainiest (i.e. The Grey), he seems very much typecast.

        I was a bit surprised when I read in EW that she was in it. After 12 Years a Slave, I definitely wouldn’t imagine her in an action movie. It is just the dawn of her career though.

  6. Instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I compare Neeson to Sigourney Weaver from ‘Alien’ or Neve Campbell from ‘Scream’. Why? Because to me, ‘The Grey’ and ‘Non-Stop’ have been mis-marketed. They’re NOT action films. There’s hardly any action in ‘Non-Stop’, not enough to compare to Arnold. No! These movies are horror films. ‘Non-Stop’ is a glorified murder mystery or slasher flick but on-board an airplane. As such, I enjoyed it on that level.

  7. I like these movies by Liam. They are simple, quick, exciting and fun. You can probably find flaws here and there, but who cares. I was on the edge of my seat for this one. 3 1/2 stars.

  8. My favorite part of the movie was that there were so many suspects to choose from. :D

  9. This one seems to be getting passing reviews which is a good sign. I almost saw it yesterday but decided on Rear Window instead. Can’t go wrong with a Hitchcock classic on the big screen. ;)

    • Yes! I love the “Classic Film Series” they do at the AMC, Cinemark and Regal theater chains. Rear Window is one of my favorites. Saw On the Waterfront last week.

  10. The reveal doesn’t equal the sum total of the clues? Amen. But eh, it’s likable anyway? Also amen. Which is to say I agree with everything you say here, Mark. Even made many of the same points in my own (as yet unadvertised) review.

    Great work, as always.

  11. I love Liam Neesons films I have saw most of them ,I am really looking forward to watching non-stop.

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