Release Date: February 28, 2014
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Film Pulse Score: 6.5/10
Non-Stop is a 21st century entry into the “Die Hard on a…” genre of films. The ‘90s saw two of the most entertaining entries in the “Die Hard on a Plane” genre, Passenger 57 and Executive Decision. Despite the films’ outrageous premises they succeeded thanks to solid direction and writing. Executive Decision transcended thanks to a stellar ensemble cast and great tension. 2006 brought us the infamous Snakes on Plane and that just turned out to be plain stupid. Liam Neeson has slipped into the action-hero role quite nicely and thanks in part to his dogged performance Non-Stop is a decent film amongst the Die Hard wannabes.
After finally reaching cruising altitude, a US Air Marshall begins receiving mysterious text messages from an unknown caller. He is informed that someone on the plane will die every twenty minutes unless $150 million dollars is deposited into an account. Bill Marks begins a race against to time to find the killer before it’s too late. However, with every step he takes the mystery runs deeper, the stakes become higher and the task at hand grows more difficult.
If it had a different leading man, this film could have easily been dismissed as straight-to-video. However, Liam Neeson’s action persona has become larger than life and that demands to be seen on the biggest screens possible. Bill Marks is a complex man and thanks to Neeson’s engaging performance he will have the viewer on board. Marks is dealing with personal issues as the crisis unfolds and in many cases his superiors believe they are clouding his judgment. Neeson does a great job of conveying the frustration of being stonewalled and knowing he has a job to do no matter the cost or consequence to his well being but still leaves a seed of doubt that maybe he isn’t all that he’s cracked up to be. The film also features Julianne Moore as a fellow passenger, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o as flight attendants and a number of supporting actors who play the suspects. For a genre film it has decent supporting performance and solid work by the two leads of Neeson and Moore.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s last film was the Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown. He previously directed horror films such as Orphan and House of Wax (2005). The film features some solid action sequences including a great fight in the airplane lavatory which was reminiscent of the elevator fight in Diamonds Are Forever. Working from a screenplay by John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach and Ryan Engle he’s able to keep things engaging and doesn’t leave enough time for second-guessing which is par for the course when it comes to the genre. This is after all a “check your brain at the door” type of film and all that’s expected is for you to enjoy the ride. Collet-Serra and company pretty much succeeded. It’s not a joke like Snakes on a Plane but is probably more in line with Wesley Snipes’ Passenger 57. That was a fairly ridiculous film but pretty enjoyable nevertheless.
If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson the action hero than you are sure to enjoy this one. It’s a decent action-mystery that features solid performances by Neeson and Julianne Moore. It’ll keep you guessing until the end, or maybe you’ll have already figured it, but it does end in a flourish. When it’s all said it done you’ll probably realize that was a pretty far-fetched story but at least Neeson kicked some ass and that’s pretty entertaining onto itself.