Liam Neeson refuses to let his age bring him down. Taken, Taken 2, The Grey, and Unknown, is proof that a grizzled old man is the last person you want to cross. So why not take all four aspects of the character from the three aforementioned movies, and stick the same character in a 60 foot tube hundreds of thousands of miles above ground. Add a mystery hostage twist, and you get yourself Non-Stop. Basically one giant mash up of Neeson’s previous films confined to the space of a 747, with a plot so far-fetched that as the film goes on, ideas run thin before they can be stretched out. Hit the jump for the full review.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra reunites with his Unknown star for this high stakes in the air hostage thriller, which feels more comical than serious as the film charges towards its destination.
Neeson plays an Irish native U.S. Air Marshall (because that makes so much sense) Bill Marks, who assigned to watch over a plane flying from New York to England. Playing an air marshal who has a fear of flights (oh the irony), it’s clear that Marks has problems, seeing that is clearly a raging alcoholic, he clings to trinkets from his past – which include a ribbon from his daughter -, and he is very anti-social. As soon as his assigned flight takes off, he receives a threatening message on his cell that one passenger would be killed every 20 minutes unless a payment of $150 million can be made to an undisclosed account. Of course things are not as simple as that, as the account is under Marks name, and everything that he does makes it seem like he’s a terrorist.
A classic whodunit meets ten little Indians set in a plane. So who is the villain? Is it a passenger? A flight attendant? Pilot? Maybe even Marks himself? Whomever it is, Marks believes he has to get this plane on the ground safely with all passengers accounted for. With the terrorist trying to divert the attention away from the passengers and on Marks himself.
Non-Stop soon becomes a test of endurance. Like any normal overseas flight, you just want it to end, and will be glad when you can plant both feet on the ground. Because the longer this flight holds out, the more boring the story becomes. As the plot thickens, each and every twist becomes more comical, unintentionally of course. But even with all the death, mayhem, and serious stakes taking place mid-air, the cheesy lines, character decisions, and slow-motion action sequences, the film becomes more and more funny as it progresses. So intentional or unintentional, Non-Stop‘s comedic antics collapses on itself, and as a result the film cannot be taken seriously any longer.
Julianne Moore seems to bring a sense of level-headedness the film desperately needs as a glass half full kind of gal to had a near death experience. A character who wants to sit in a window seat so that she can see the sky before she dies, Moore seems to be there just to ease some of the burdens that Marks is carrying. Basically a Watson to Marks’ grizzled Sherlock. Michelle Dockery also helps out as one of Marks’ trustyworthy flight attendants whom he has a friendly past with. But it’s really tough to see Lupita Nyong’o in this role, especially after she is coming off her possible Academy Award winning performance in 12 Years A Slave.
But as they search for who the villain is, the man pulling Marks’ strings becomes more and more desperate to misdirect our hero by trying to subtly rally the passengers against him. Hacking the flight, killing people, making it look like Marks is doing it, each and every implausible act forces you to suspend all kinds of disbelief. Each and every twist is so desperate to keep the audience from knowing who the terrorist is that it is sacrificing the story, and makes it confusing to tell if what we saw was for comedy relief, or something that was suppose to be serious. Then when the motivations are finally revealed, his reasons are not personal against Marks, his partner, or the flight attendants, or anyone else on the plane, it one that you are duped into believing.
On the other hand, the film does mange to disparage hate crimes and racism by making Omar Metwally one of the heroes of the day. But then it falls back to typical character stereotypes. The tough NY cop, the nervous guy, the super nervous guy in glasses.
Despite Collet-Serra’s best efforts, Non-Stop is a nonsensical, stupid, and hilarious movie that fails to take itself seriously on all levels. Better take on large sleeping pill, because Non-Stop is one long dull flight.