Non-Stop (2014) Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. With Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll and Lupita Nyong’o.
In the movie business, once something becomes popular, they keep making more of it. Typically to the extent that it becomes a mere shell of what it began life as. To a degree, this is happening with Liam Neeson, the action man. That said, however ridiculous Non-Stop is, there is something old-school entertaining about it, given the right mood.
In the tradition of the celebrated action stars of the past, Neeson has become a little sub-genre all of his own. Where he differs from many in the genre, though, is that he can actually act. In that sense, his prominence in the field, however temporary, is somewhat refreshing. Of course, you can also have too much of a good thing. Taken 2 harmed his credibility, yet in in Non-Stop, his second collaboration with ‘Unknown‘ director, Jaume Collet-Serra, things are on a more even par.
Neeson plays an air marshal on a transatlantic flight. A flight, initially unbeknownst to him, with a terrorist on-board. Where the film is smart, and dare I say, a touch Hitchcockian, is that the identity of the aggressor is kept a secret. We’re teased with visual clues, but Collet-Serra invites the audience to play the guessing game, which gives the film life beyond being just another Passenger 57 style action thriller.
Aside from the whodunnit style, the film looks very slick and professional, with a surprising amount of camera movement inside the tight-looking confines of the plane. Surprisingly, Non-Stop also boasts an impressive supporting cast, with the likes of Julianne Moore, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and House of Cards’ Corey Stoll in roles of varying significance.
The downside is that despite the short-term fun, it’s quickly forgotten, while becoming increasingly implausible. That said, if you’re watching a mainstream action thriller with expectations of anything else, then it’s kind of your problem. Non-Stop could well be the dictionary definition of a Friday night popcorn film. It’s often daft, and it didn’t ought to take itself quite so seriously, but in the end, there is fun to be had by playing along and just letting it do its thing. 3/5