Non-Stop is the latest action movie from the noughties most improbable action star, Liam Neeson. After proving he can handle being badass in both Taken and The Grey, Neeson frequently finds himself playing the reluctant hero of late, and by now he may be losing his taste for it. Brought to us by the director of another Neeson misfire, Unknown, Non-Stop has enough of the ingredients for it to be a throwback to some old school 90’s action, but it never quite gets the balance right.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, an alcoholic, grizzled air marshal and when we first meet him it’s easy to see he’s in a mess. The woman seated next to him during take-off, Jen Summers (Moore), is forced to coax and calm him and it’s apparent from the off that Marks is a man on the age, plagued with his own personal demons.
From the moment the plane’s doors close and Marks receives a text demand for the transfer of $150 million (or else someone will die every 20 minutes), everyone becomes a suspect. The cast is effective and for a good portion of it’s running time, Non-Stop does exactly what it sets out to do. Everyone on board comes under scrutiny at some point during the movie, and the director isn’t afraid to lead his audience astray in the search for answers. When passengers and crew members start dropping, and the evidence points to Neeson himself as the culprit, the stage is set for paranoia at 30,000 feet, with a commercial jet as the setting for the ultimate locked-room mystery.
Neeson is his usual dependable self, his imposing frame put to good use in the claustrophobic setting. Though he could be accused of phoning it in, by now he has the gruff, menacing hard-man nailed down and it’s hard to imagine the film working at all with anyone else taking the lead. The rest of the cast (apart from Moore, who definitely does phone it in) are a who’s who of “oh, it’s that guy from that thing” which actually turns out to be a strength of the movie as it leads us to believe that anyone could potentially be the baddie.
Where it all falls apart is the third act, where the plot seems to have been parachuted out the door and an over reliance on (bad) CGI makes sure the laws of physics quickly follow behind. There’s no getting away from the fact that Non-Stop is unable to deliver a satisfactory touchdown, with the explanation for Marks’ persecution as weak as the sentimental outcome. One of those films where you’ll feel cheated after such an engrossing build-up, Non-Stop finds itself grounded by excess baggage.
(Images courtesy IMDb, Collider)