Film Title: Non-Stop
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong'o, Michelle Dockery
Running Time: 106 min
US federal air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is on a transatlantic flight between New York and London when he receives the first of a sequence of threatening text messages. The pitch: if the airline doesn’t pony up $150 million, then a passenger will die every 20 minutes.
Marks is a lone wolf with a gun and a US marshal badge. But is he the right kind of lone wolf with a gun and a US marshal badge? An alcoholic ex-cop who only makes it through take-off with sympathetic passenger Julianne Moore’s assistance, he’s decent-minded enough to assist a cutesy-pie l’il girl when she drops her teddy bear at the gate. Still, the way he manhandles potential suspects is hardly by the book. And first-person shots from his perspective suggest anything between astigmatism and outright lunacy.
Jaume Collet-Serra, the erratic talent behind the splendid Orphan and the shoddy House of Wax, works plenty of spills and thrills into the material. Breaking the story at 40,000 feet into a series of mini-crises – The bank account is in Bill’s name! The pilot takes his gun! There’s a bomb on the plane! – the director utilises the (almost) real time framework of Nick of Time and 24 with no little flair.
Following on from Unknown (also by Collet-Sera), The Grey and Taken , the novelty of watching Neeson barking commands in his native accent has yet to wear off: the appeal works doubly for those of us born within the six counties. A commanding and credible screen presence, Neeson has, in his various action roles, done more than a little to overturn decades of patronising Hollywood depictions of the Irish as noble savages and leprechauns.
For this, we are eternally grateful. We’re a little less grateful for Non-Stop ’s dodgy politics. Silly denouements and top-loaded actioners are something of a Hollywood trademark this decade. So be prepared for lunacy, when, during the final act, the unmasked villain finally explains the irrational rationale behind the plot.
What? Really? Couldn’t the screenplay just have put a gremlin on the wing and have done with it?