REVIEW: There is a great hole in the world where Mel Gibson used to be.
There was a time, before he apparently began accusing America's Jewish population of everything from the Kennedy assassination to the cancelling of the Muppet Show, when Mrs Gibson's boy was every director's first pick for a bit of high-octane rubbish with a sweaty middle-aged bloke in the lead.
But the possibility of casting Mel Gibson is no more, and it is into this lucrative Mel-shaped hole that Liam Neeson has gratefully slipped.
Non-Stop sees Neeson, stretching himself not all, as a troubled Air Marshall, aboard a plane that may be harbouring a terrorist.
Neeson has received a bunch of cryptic texts on his closed circuit 'phone, but the possibility is hinted at - though utterly unexplored - that Neeson himself is the one doing the dirty; possibly via one of those sub-Manchurian Candidate plot devices that pot-boiler thrillers are so fond of.
The plane is full of red herrings, and Neeson must grope, thump, and brutalise his way to the disappointingly silly conclusion.
Gibson used to bring a vulnerability and sense of impending hysteria to these roles that made them stick in the mind far more than the scripts really warranted.
Neeson, even with a very game Julianne Moore to play off, is too mono-tone, too obviously indomitable, to lift this film anywhere clear of what it is: a run-of-the-mill Friday night popcorn flogger.
- The Dominion Post