February 27, 2014 Leave a comment
While flying New York to London, U.S. federal air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is contacted through a supposedly secure network by someone threatening to kill one passenger every twenty minutes unless $150 million is wired into a specific account. The account, however, is revealed to be in Marks’ own name, and while attempting to identify the culprit he further implicates himself in the terrorist plot. As passengers start to die, and a bomb is found onboard buried in briefcase full of cocaine, Marks — aided by fellow passenger Jen (Julianne Moore) and flight attendant Nancy (Michelle Dockery) — finds himself labelled a hijacker, and excommunicated by ground support.
Reuniting Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra with unlikely action hero Liam Neeson, Non-Stop is yet another B-movie with an A-list cast. The premise, which as seen above can be easily summed up in a single sentence, is admittedly an intriguing one, but the film quickly eschews all tension, analysis and socio-political commentary in order to focus on Neeson’s latest gun-toting doberman.
Having brilliantly and mercilessly satirised his Hollywood persona in The LEGO Movie, playing both Good and Bad Cop to hilarious effect, Neeson here returns to his usual portrayal of Sad Cop, a jaded law enforcer troubled by a tragic past. The actor appears to be on autopilot — all sense of turbulence confined to the outer side of the plane’s fuselage — and though the script may mention past horrors there is very little evidence of it in Neeson’s performance.
The film’s only hope lies with its red herrings, and of the countless crew-members and passengers fingered by a desperate director only two of them make any sort of lasting impression. Julianne Moore is obviously one of them, endearing almost immediately as Jen Summers, a character who whether by accident or design finds herself sitting next to Neeson’s Marks. The other worthwhile diversion is Michelle Dockery as Nancy, a regular on Downton Abbey who transitions remarkably well to the big screen. Obediently, everyone else jumps thoughtlessly from suspicious to heroic the moment the seat belt sign is switched off.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, Non-Stop is almost the perfect in-flight movie. Not only will it pass a few hours, be wholly undiminished on the small screen and keep you nodding off onto your neighbours shoulder, but will give you tens of vaguely familiar but ultimately unrecognised names to Google while waiting for your bags at the carousel. (Was that really Oscar-nominated 12 Years A Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o as the other British flight attendant? I sure hope nobody from the Academy sees this on their way to LA.)