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Non-Stop Review | Preposterous Action-Thriller Delivers Just Enough To Savor

Orlando Lens
By Nicholas Ware

Liam Neeson is 61 years old. Let me repeat that: Liam Neeson is 61 years old. This is remarkable for a few reasons. First, he's still a very handsome man. Second, he became a full-fledged action star thanks to the film Taken, which was released when he was in his late 50s. That's remarkable and a testament to his considerable charisma and his believable badassness. Neeson is legitimately large for an actor at six-foot-four, and tends to command the frame on size alone. His barely-disguised Irish accent is unique, and make his voice intimidating enough on its own, as witness by his vocal turn as Bad Cop in The Lego Movie (which is tremendous, by the way). I bring all this up because Neeson has become a franchise unto himself, opening off-season (usually February and October) action films for several years now, and while not all of them have been major hits, even the least-watchable among them (I'm looking at you, Unknown) have been profitable. They've also been predictable. Neeson action films largely feature three elements: a man who has only himself to rely on, a stream of multiplying difficulties, and some central mystery to uncover. Non-Stop is no different, and that's both its strength and its weakness. It never surprises, and it's entirely preposterous, but it delivers exactly what it promises, and sadly not every film can make that claim.


The film's central concept is relatively simple. Neeson plays an air marshal on a flight from New York to London. During the flight, his receives myserious texts from his secure network, and eventually he realizes he's caught in the deadly game of a master criminal-slash-highjacker. The rub is that he's being manipulated in such a way that it looks like he himself is the highjacker. The only other above-the-line actor on board is Julienne Moore as a fellow passenger who assists Neeson but who has secrets of her own. In a way, Moore, as historically talented as she is, is superfluous to the film. While it's nice to see an age-appropriate (but still gorgeous) love interest in a Hollywood film, she could have been played by nearly any actress of any age and any skill level. Moore's prodigious gifts are wasted on the role, but I'm sure the decent paycheck of a production of this level is appreciated in the Moore camp. They can't all be awards season indies.

I will avoid further plot summary, but as in most action-thrillers, we're given plenty of reasons to suspect nearly every other passenger who gets any significant lines is possibly the villain. The reveal--and the path to get to the reveal--are not worth the journey per se, but the journey itself is fine. Additionally, I respect the film for not over-complicating the film once everything significant is revealed. Too many films pile on false finishes, double-and-triple-crosses, and other messes. Non-Stop's ending is refreshingly clean.


Non-Stop is a film that, if you're already excited to see it, will be a good experience. It's not, however, a film to recommend to anyone on the fence. It doesn't do anything particularly well but neither does it do anything particularly poorly. I, personally, am predisposed to enjoy Neeson, so I had plenty of fun. If you're of the same ilk, so will you.

 

Non-Stop opens today at nearly all area multiplexes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references. Run time 1 hour 46 minutes.