The gods of cinematic action have a well worn and battle tested formula that isn't always the flashest, but it always bound to invoke the right reaction and have audiences leaving the theatre on a positive note. Don't get me wrong, "Non-Stop" certainly has its fair share of problems but it does just enough right and it cements its star as one of the best action leads in the modern era.
During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the government to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes.
Ultimately a little more convoluted then it needs to be, "Non-Stop" works as a full out action whodunit and while it adds a little too many twists and turns with some unnecessary exposition towards the end of the film, it is still some crazy ass fun.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra coming off of 2011's "Unknown" with Neeson, reteam to make this action thriller. It sets up the story rather simply enough and wastes no time to get us on the plane where all of the films events ultimately go down. Serra effectively creates some genuine tension that works in concert with moments of levity and dead-pan humor. We are simply up close and personal with this entire batch of characters and we don't know who to trust. The action is very well executed and Serra effectively brings up the suspense to a fever pitch when it needs to be. The dialogue is a little hammy at times, and the narrative tries way too hard to be an intriguing whodunit with some truly unnecessary explanations and motivations that get forced down our throats in the final act of the film. Something a little simpler more in line with "Snakes on a Plane" would have been more than enough, because why give it a meaning or a message, when simply 'crazy' is more than enough to move the story along. That being said, with all of its weaknesses aside this film was built for the grizzled veteran action star that Liam Neeson has become.
As the deeply flawed but morally pure action hero, Liam Neeson has really found a brilliant later in life niche in his career as his grizzled anti-hero bad ass character has become one of the more entertaining cinematic staples that we have been treated to in recent years. He effectively carries that no nonsense movie star swagger that we as audience members simply love to lap up and it is all a genuine pleasure to watch. In true whodunit fashion, the balance of the ensemble is loaded with the likes of Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Anson Mount, Corey Stoll, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker and Lupita Nyong'o to keep us guessing at every turn. The material isn't necessarily the best, but every single member of the ensemble is committed to the type of movie that they are making, and they all sell it very, very well.
It will never be considered high art, and even though there are action romps that have been done in a similar vein that are much better than this one, "Non-Stop" works because it does a great job in selling us this story, no matter how clunky and heavy handed it tries to get.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Non-Stop" is open tomorrow in theatres all across the country, please check with your local listings for show times.