3/7/14

NON-STOP - REVIEW


Liam Neeson is back and, this time, he's taking on an entire plane!

After the likes of Taken, its sequel and Unknown, we get Non-Stop another punchy B movie thriller in which Neeson tries to figure some mystery out and cracks a few bones (and noses) in the process.

The "mystery" this time is, quite simply, a whodunit.

Neeson is Bill Marks, an air marshall who gets on a plane to find that someone is going to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless he transfers $150M into some account. Bill, an alcoholic with a troubled past, is pushed to his limits as he starts suspecting pretty much everyone around him, finding it near impossible to trust anyone. Eventually, a bomb is revealed to be on the plane and things take an even more destructive turn. The trailer for Non-Stop promised a lot of brainless fun and OTT plane-set action scenes and the film does provide that but it also brings some genuinely clever little twists and turns and keeps you glued to the screen and involved in this whole whodunit from start to finish. It's certainly a hard to film to review without giving away key spoilers but suffice it to say, plot-wise, that it develops in a compelling way and that the end reveal you probably won't see coming until just before. If you think about all the plot points for more than two seconds, chances are you'll find endless ways to unravel them to prove that they make no sense and, indeed, a lot of this movie is far-fetched and unbelievable. The way that plane works is entirely dependent on what's going on in the plot, there's no consistency to it but Non-Stop never aspired for anything more than a two-dimensional action-packed whodunit so it gets that across really well but it's very much a broad strokes affair.

This is a disaster movie sub-genre as old as time itself, the parody Airplane! famously took the piss of it back in the early 80's, so it's hard not to find some of Non-Stop a bit silly, especially with the plane being filled to the brim with dodgy-looking characters, some with conveniently troubled back-stories (Julianne Moore), some obvious red-herrings, the clich├ęd frightened kid and the annoying dude who becomes a good guy by the end. Also, Bill Marks tends to believe certain things really quickly and other things not at all, he's pretty selective that way, with very little logic to his thought process. It's easy to forgive these inconsistencies, though, and dismiss them as nitpicks since, by the end, the film wraps things up surprisingly well, giving us an actually interesting villain to bring us to our safe-ish landing. There's some last minute cheesiness we could have definitely done without but, otherwise, Non-Stop works. The cast includes Moore, a pre-Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong'o, who is given pretty much no screen time at all and Scott McNairy, who is as reliably good as ever. Non-Stop won't win any awards and it's unlikely you'll remember it by the time the year is out but it's still a fun, well put-together ride which, if you like Liam Neeson and that type of thriller, should make your day.

Barring a couple of unnecessarily slow moments and that corny last minute, Non-Stop does exactly what it promised to do and even gives us a little more by delivering a fun whodunit with some good action and even (gasp!) some brains to it but not too much either.

Just plane entertaining.

(plane intended)

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