Non-Stop: Movie Review
Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Linus Roache
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
It's to the skies that Liam Neeson takes in this thriller, which promises twists and turns and suspense aplenty amid the Seatbelts sign being switched on.
A grizzly and wearied looking Neeson plays Bill Marks, a burned out veteran of the Air Marshals service, who's assigned to a flight but would rather be in his car, drinking. Troubled and definitely not a people person, Marks views his time in the air as a necessity and a distraction rather than a chance to save the passengers within from any incoming threats.
Though, his day takes a turn away from the routine when he receives a page on his secured network pager, telling him that unless he pays $150 million, someone on the plane will die. And he has just minutes to sort this - now, the clock is ticking and everyone on a crowded transatlantic flight is a suspect....
Non-Stop is a thrill ride that gets some parts right, and other aspects wildly wrong.
With shades of Passenger 57 in terms of idea, there's plenty of meat on this premise to be explored - and Neeson does a great job of selling it, committing wholeheartedly to the at times, creaking story. Along with Downton Abbey's Lady Mary (aka Michelle Dockery) as an airline stewardess and Julianne Moore as a mysterious woman sat next to Marks on the flight, the cast is incredibly solid and convincing as the story takes a turn for the absurd when the motivation for the hijacking is revealed.
Occasionally the sense of paranoia is ramped up with shades of Flight 93's passenger heroics thrown in for good measure as those seated in economy rise up and revolt against Marks' apparent paranoid delusions; and Neeson plays those scenes well. The tension's quite well held together initially as you try and work out who is responsible for what's going on - and to be frank, every possible twist is exploited and turned about as far as it can go for the benefit of the film. There also moments when Neeson exploits those particular action acting skills that he so honed on the Taken films to ensure there's an ass-kicking ahead when it's needed in among the ludicrous dialogue and growing absurdity of the situation.
Eventually though, there's an unbeatable element of silliness which creeps in - Marks makes a ludicrous offer of international travel for all for a year and a couple of other things happen which will make you guffaw, but all in all, the high flying Non-Stop just about holds it together with its 80s action thriller vibe, complete with stereotyped characters. (Just you wait until the scene where American news media gets hold of the story that an Irishman has apparently hijacked a flight...)
It just about - but barely - works due to Neeson's committed performance and playing it diabolically straight, leaving you questioning whether he's telling the truth as the layers of the puzzle are revealed; he makes the irrational seem totally irrational as the exposition comes flying thick and fast. Granted, the final reveal is a bit of a contrived out of left-field let down.
Non-Stop is very much like a plane journey - it's a claustrophobic thrill ride if you're prepared to check your brain at the departure gate; strap yourself in for the long haul and expect a lot of turbulence on the way. It's highly implausible and utterly ludicrous in parts - and the ending makes you feel a little like you were put in economy after being treated like business class for parts of the ride.