The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>Non-Stop</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Non-Stop

An alcoholic Air Marshall is caught up in a game of cat and mouse with a sociopath on a transatlantic flight.

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong'o, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Corey Stoll

Alcoholic US Air Marshall Bill Marks (Neeson) boards what should be a routine transatlantic flight from New York to London. Soon after take-off, Marks begins to receive a series of text messages from a fellow passenger's untraceable cell phone. At first, Marks puts it down to a prankster but the messages grow darker in tone when the sender threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until the sum of $150 million is transferred to a bank account. When Marks' daughter is mentioned in a text, the Marshall decides he must solve this mystery on his own.
Following on from Taken and its sequel, Liam Neeson continues to fill the Harrison Ford shaped void of the reluctant aging action hero. Watching Neeson snarl his way through Non-Stop, it's impossible not to imagine Ford essaying this role had it been made 20 years earlier, and I almost expected Neeson to repeat Ford's "Get off my plane!!!" catchphrase from 1997's Air Force One. What Neeson adds to these sort of roles however, is a genuine sense of menace. He may be twice my age but I'm pretty sure Neeson would break me in half if I got on his wrong side.
Neeson's gravitas goes a long way to covering up what a terrible film Non-Stop really is. He's in practically every frame of the movie and effectively sells the paranoia and confusion of the predicament his character finds himself in. Much of our confusion, of course, is created by the script. Despite three writers taking a stab at it, Non-Stop's plot has holes large enough to fly an Airbus through. I suspect these writers all favor a window seat as it allows for convenient logic disposal. Early on, we're left scratching our heads as to how a cop could be kicked off the force for alcoholism, only to then become an Air Marshall, and the gaps in logic grow ever larger as the film progresses. Each plot twist seems to negate what came before and by the conclusion you're left with more questions than a nosy kid in a cockpit.
After Orphan and Unknown, Serra has built a reputation for helming nonsensical thrillers. His movies rely far too much on dialogue and plot twists in place of visual storytelling and suspense, and Non-Stop carries on in this fashion. Spending all our time with the film's protagonist means the suspense factor is null and void. Not knowing the identity of movie's villain rob us of the thrill of those "He's behind you!" moments.
All that said, the film is never dull and the rapid pacing paints over the plot's damp patches enough to get you through its running time. A final exploitation of real life events leaves you with a queasy feeling however, and may prove a step too far for many US viewers.

Eric Hillis