Bill Marks: I’m not hijacking this plane. I’m trying to save it!
As the great Bette Davis once said “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” And indeed it is. Our yearly Liam Neeson action flick has finally arrived, and I am delighted to say that NON-STOP may in fact be the best yet.
Neeson stars as Bill Marks, the most unstable air marshall ever known to humankind. This is a man who is an alcoholic, hates flying, smokes in the plane’s lavatory, and beats people up with little to no provocation. Midway through his transatlantic flight, Bill receives a message on his phone (via the plane’s Wi-Fi) from another passenger, saying that they will kill someone on the flight every twenty minutes unless $150,000,000 is transferred into a bank account. With the help of flight attendant, Nancy (Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery) and fellow passenger, Jen (Julianne Moore), Bill must take control of the situation and stop the assailant before passengers are killed. While this is initially Bill’s only problem, many more stem from it, but I’ll leave that for you to discover.
Let’s get to the most important thing here; if you cannot find a way to enjoy a film that is cliché ridden, full of plot holes, and is semi-incoherent, then NON-STOP is most definitely not for you. Theoretically speaking, this film is a complete mess, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d like to think that after director, Jaume Collet-Serra’s last collaboration with Neeson on UNKNOWN, he understood exactly the kind of action star he has become, and realized that when it comes to Neeson action movies, bigger is most certainly better, and dumb is irrelevent. The only thing in the film that really doesn’t work is a schmaltzy sentimental attempt to build a relationship between Bill and a scared young girl on the plane. The entire relationship felt a little too creepy and was quite unneeded.
As he tears through the aisles of the plane, Neeson gives what is perhaps his best post-KINSEY performance as our hero. While this performance is perfectly outrageous, it is still entirely believable. It doesn’t hurt that Neeson is surrounded by wonderful character actors, including those already mentioned, as well as House of Card’s Corey Stoll and 12 YEARS A SLAVE Oscar nominee, Lupita Nyong’o. The film was made before she broke out in the Steve McQueen film, which probably explains why Nyongo’s Gwen only has about seven lines (seven wonderfully uttered lines accompanied by an awesome haircut, that is). I will attest that Collet-Serra could’ve used Moore a little better, as she spends almost half the film looking around in her seat. One of the most remarkable things about Moore’s Jen is that amid this life or death crisis, she still finds just the right moments (if one can even say that) to flirt with Bill. But hey, we all act differently under pressure, right?
While the film deals with rather serious subject matter, it does find some time for humor; though this is sometimes unintentional. Is it appropriate to stick jokes into a film about innocent people being murdered and a possible hijacking situation? Not really, but NON-STOP isn’t concerned with sensitivity and does it anyway; and once again I am totally okay with that.
Some may just dismiss NON-STOP as “TAKEN on a plane”, but it’s really so much more than that. This film not only features the hard-boiled Neeson0 but also humor, impeccable acting, and a semi-plausible commentary on post-9/11 security. Here we have what is possibly one of the most entertaining action-thrillers ever made, so do yourself a serious favour and don’t miss this flight.