Non-Stop is the latest from director Jaume Collet-Serra starring Liam Neeson in the sort of role that he seems doomed to be forever typecast in. This is getting sort-of tiresome, but you know what? He is good at it.
In Non-Stop he plays Air Marshall Bill Marks, a man with plenty of personal demons. When we meet him we seem him making himself a little pre-flight drink with a clear indication of a haunted past. Upon arrival at the airport he immediately bumps into a few interesting characters, some more shady than others. Instantly, the game of guess who is the bad-guy begins for us, the audience, and it’s a fun game to play.
During the flight he receives a series of interesting texts, which he shouldn’t be getting as he’s on a private, secure line. The mysterious texter wants 150 million dollars transferred into an account. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll kill one passenger on the plane every 20 minutes until they make his demand. These guys know of his troubled past, and use that to their advantage. Soon they begin manipulating Bill to the point where from an outside perspective, it seem like he’s the one behind it all. The account that they have him request the money transferred to? It’s his own. Soon, passengers start dying, and naturally there is mass panic on-board. Passengers not only start to question their safety under his watch, but if he’s the one behind it all.
Going into Non-Stop, keep all requests of complete plausibility and realism in your pocket. There are a lot of questions about how the happenings went down, and some of it makes more sense than others. The writing team of John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle could have made things a little bit more clear. If you’re able to just take it for what it is, you’ll find that Non-Stop is a non-stop thriller than continually keeps you guessing.
You are thrown into a never-ending game of guess who the bad guy is, revolving around a wide set of characters on board the flight. It gets to the point where you have an idea of who the villain may be, but then something happens that dispels that notion and has you questioning who the real threat really is. Neeson’s character is forced to try and make all the passengers believe he is truly on their side, but it becomes nearly impossible with all that happens on-board.
This is effective due to a surprisingly solid cast featuring the likes of Julianne Moore, Corey Stoll (House Of Cards’ Peter Russo) and Scoot McNairy. There’s also a minor role for recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. It was odd seeing her in such a minor role after being on top of the world just a few days prior. Seeing Neeson interact with these characters is a hoot, even if he is basically running through his Bryan Mills character again.
The eventually twist does come towards the end, and unfortunately it isn’t as satisfying as I would have hoped. The delivery and explanation of the motivation behind it all is a bit sloppy, and I don’t know if the answer is even all that clear when it’s all said and done.
But for an hour and a half I was more entertained than I had any right to be, and I will honestly admit that I didn’t see that coming. It’s the sort of movie that will certainly lose some of its glamor after the first viewing, but for an hour and a half I had quite a bit of fun watching all the chaos go down. Non-Stop is a film that is a lot more fun than it had any right to be.