Twitter Plot Summary: Neeson plays a US Air Marshall who has to prevent a killer on his plane from bumping someone off every 20 minutes.
Five Point Summary:
1. He’s having a drink – not a good sign.
2. Nice way of showing text messages in a film.
3. Who’s the killer?
4. He’s not trying to hijack this plane, he’s trying to save it!
5. And there’s your usual nonsensical ending.
Liam Neeson seems to be in no rush to give up his action movie roles in this late stage of his career, although to be fair to Non-Stop, other than two or three sequences there isn’t much in terms of physical action required – we are on a tightly packed aircraft after all.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, a US Air Marshal with a drinking problem, who boards a transatlantic flight from New York to London in the course of his work. Around halfway through the flight he starts receiving text messages on his secure line from a passenger on board, threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until he transfers $150 million into an account that turns out to be in his name. As time goes on Marks has to work out who’s responsible and attempt to persuade those on the ground that he’s not trying to hijack the plane – he’s trying to save it!
And this plays out rather well for the majority of the film. There is a real sense of tension and you’re kept guessing as to who the villain may be. This is despite the plane being a lot smaller than expected – a small business class and a slightly larger standard cabin, and that’s it. In one sense it does limit the possible number of villains for Neeson to pick from, but on the other hand it reduces the impact of finding out who is responsible, and also reduces the amount of work Marks has to do in order to figure it all out.
This is sadly let down by the final few minutes where the villain is revealed and it lapses into standard action fare – yawn. Furthermore the reasons for the hijacking are lame. Seriously lame. There was so much promise yet it throws it all away at the last, as if the writer ran out of cool ideas and didn’t know how to end it in a satisfactory manner. In fact it borderline ruins all of the build-up and the entertainment of the first 80-odd minutes.
The way in which the forces on the ground attempt to negotiate with Marks, thinking him to be the hijacker, is a tad unbelievable. They seem to be reading more into the situation and their interactions with him than is actually there. then again, that’s an entirely believable situation – even with this taken into account though, this aspect needed to be better written in my opinion.
Non-Stop does at least follow the classic template for a Liam Neeson action film. He has a particular set of skills, he has gravitas, he has at least one cool action sequence that shows up in the trailer, and he has at least one line or speech that will become a cult favourite. Each of these options is ticked off with gleeful abandon. Neeson is supported by some surprisingly big names – Julianne Moore as a fellow passenger who sits next to him on the flight; Michelle Dockery (that woman from Downton Abbey) and Lupita Nyong’o as air hostesses or whatever the politically correct name for them is these days; and an array of actors whose faces you might recognise from a number of smaller roles in other films. It might not be as enjoyable as his role in the Taken films, but Non-Stop ticks enough boxes to justify a viewing. Then again if you’re not a fan of Taken or Neeson’s more recent action roles then you’re better off giving this a miss.