OPINION: Non-Stop. Starring Liam Neeson, Michelle Dockery, Julianne Moore; directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
I have to admit, I wasn't particularly excited by the premise of Non-Stop. It seemed, at best, to be a fairly average thriller with Liam Neeson throwing his weight around. It seemed, from the trailers, to be a bit of a tired Taken rehash.
I was, however, pleasantly surprised by what I did get, which was a fast-paced airborne action thriller, with Neeson competently holding the reins.
Neeson is Bill Marks, a federal air marshal assigned to an international flight. Like all such characters, he has his issues - he's a grieving father, he's an alcoholic, but dammit he has a Job to Do!
He's expecting a quiet flight, but that's shattered when he gets a threatening message on his phone - on an apparently secure network. If he doesn't come up with $150 million, one passenger is going to die every 20 minutes.
The race is on, as Marks tries to not only find out who's sending him the messages, but keep the passengers alive.
He's a lone wolf to start with, but soon enlists the help of flight attendant Nancy (Michelle Dockery - Lady Mary Crawley to you Downton Abbey watchers out there) and fellow passenger Jen (Julianne Moore).
The pace of the movie is break- neck as Marks fights to save the flight, save the passengers, and ultimately his own reputation as he's accused of hijacking the flight thanks to some clever manipulation by the unseen bad guy.
A lot of the tension comes from the fact that Marks is battling an unseen adversary for much of the film - and then, when that adversary turns the situation around on Marks - he's also battling the authorities who think he's hijacked the flight for the money.
Non-Stop is old-school edge-of- your-seat stuff, with even a locked- room murder thrown in for good measure.
The story races through its pretty standard plot-points at a breakneck speed, but you're so invested in it that you almost don't notice.
Neeson holds up the movie, and Dockery and Moore are the perfect foils for his rough, ready and tortured marshal.
Non-Stop won't set the film world alight, nor will it win any awards, but it's a solid, fast-paced action-thriller with an interesting premise and good leads, and really what more do you need to be properly entertained?
- The Southland Times