Non-Stop – Review
There’s an unacknowledged reality we all currently occupy in which Liam Neeson is the most bankable action star currently working in film. Frankly, it’s hard to tell which is the most interesting part about that; that his body of work prior to Taken in 2007 (2009 in the US) was largely dramatic, that it’s happened to someone Neeson’s age, or that it’s come about in only seven years. Five if you’re American.
Reteaming with Unknown director Collet-Serra, Non-Stop sees Neeson play grizzled alcoholic air marshall Bill Marks, who – whilst on a transatlantic flight to London – receives a series of text messages threatening to kill a passenger every twenty minutes until he, she, or they are paid 150 million dollars. The quintessential concept-thriller plot, it plays as a cross between Arlington Road, Murder On The Orient Express and an episode of 24; far from simply being “Taken on a plane”, it’s the sort of Hitchcockian b-movie fodder that Collet-Serra and Neeson seem to excel at.
To that end, it’s hard to find fault in either man’s work. Collet-Serra’s visual style ironically gets some room to cut loose in the confined environment of the film’s single airline set, while Neeson remains the thinking man’s Jason Statham, aware of the film’s limitations and not trying to exceed them, but injecting just enough charisma and life into proceedings that it forgives them.
It’s a twisty-turny and very pacy thriller. True to the film’s title, the near-realtime set-up keeps the – admittedly ridiculous – plot storming along nicely, and while the third act’s conclusion swiftly devolves into the exact sort of movie the poster threatened you with (complete with bolted-on political agenda), it’s hard to find fault in Non-Stop as an enjoyable, breezy and well-paced concept-thriller.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore