Non-Stop (2014) – A Review

Liam Neeson Non-Stop action movie

Liam Neeson is Bill Marks an air marshal on a six-hour flight from New York to London. He’s haunted by the death of his daughter and spends most of his time depressed and drinking. It seems like he’s going to be silently staring blankly letting his depression eat himself up during this trip.

However, he receives an anonymous text message from a fellow passenger that gets his attention. A demand of $150 million bucks be deposited into an offshore account or else someone will die every twenty minutes on this flight. Marks begins to take this threat very seriously when mysteriously bodies begin to pile up. Now it’s up to this burnt out air marshal to convince the airline to pay the demands and keep the passengers calm, all the while trying to figure out who onboard this plane is the terrorist.

We all know how Neeson has reinvented himself as an action-star since Taken was a huge hit. Since then it seems we’re treated annually watching him being forced to run around in a foreign country cracking heads and shooting bad guys in order to protect the people he loves.

I always wondered why it took people so long to catch on that he could be an effective action lead. I remember seeing him in Next of Kin and Darkman and thinking he’d probably pop up again in some more action type roles. But he never really did. It wasn’t until that Taken flick people accepted him not just playing dramatic, quiet mentor-type roles and that he could look pretty cool holding a gun.

I really like the set-up to Non-Stop. It’s a very Hitchcockian-type of whodunit – or ‘whosdoinit’. Neeson is good. He’s had so much practice at playing this kind of part the last few years it’s become second nature to him at this point. He has to be bored with this type of role by now, which is why I read statements by him that he’s ready to hang up his action hero roles very soon.

But he’s engaging to watch here as he gets more and more flustered with bodies mysteriously popping up every twenty minutes. Once the secret is out and he’s running around the plane pointing his gun at every passenger that looks even a little bit suspicious you get on his side of wanting to find out what is going on and how is this happening.

As the story progresses and more twists are revealed and things start to get out of hand, the movie lost me. For such a fun sounding setup, the story doesn’t maintain itself all the way to the end. A lot of unbelievable convenient stuff begins to happen that punctures the realistic, tense mood things started out with.

Still the first half kept me interested. I was just disappointed that the whole thing began to hit major turbulence halfway through. It was at least better than Taken 2.

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8 Responses

  1. spaceodds says:

    Who would have thought a stupid little movie like Taken will kick start the geriatric action hero and take Neeson onto a new career path? They guy was, for years, in line to have played Abe Lincoln. Then he does Taken, and it all goes onto a new path. I've always liked Liam Neeson, as an actor but after Taken, I really liked him kicking some ass and signing off on fights with his gravel voice. Why, oh Why didn't his late wife allow him to be 007!? No disrespect to the departed but how wrong she was.

    Anyhow Non-Stop is what it is. A Neeson action film that yet again was a minor box office hit, and is destined to be viewed repeateadly at home. Neeson does his tortured soul act again… only this time he hates flying… perfect credentials for being an Air Marshal…. and he redeems himself by saving a potential dangerous situation. Only this time he is kicking ass… of mostly innocent mostly civilian caricatures!? And I tell you, its a fun watch. Scoot Mccarry plays the hypocondirac, Jullianne Moore plays the mature potential love interest with a back story. You have an Islamic doctor, the NY cop who's loud and brash, and the French Parkour guy from Live Free and Die Hard trying to get his much younger and sexy girlfriend initiated into The Mile High Club. Not to mention a frightened little girl is also on board, on her own flying across the Atlantic just so Neeson can reveal that under that bitter tortured soul, there is an even more tragic soul who just wants to play father.

    However who really wins in the caricature stakes are the stewardesses who just happed to be English, even Lupita Nyong from 12 Years A Slave dons a crisp English accent to match that of her colleague's, crisply played by Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey (I'm telling you, watching this woman smile is creepy)

    Like most of Neeson's action films, they're a blast, a guilty pleasure that is enjoyed more when watched at home. Like Neeson's previous collaboration with director Collet Serra, Unknown, it is a film that you've seen before and a film you don't mind watching for fun. It is better than Unknown, and don't even bring up the Taken sequels in comparisons. It's ironic that I saw Taken 2&3 at the theater (don't blame me, blame my friend who loves this stuff) but Non-Stop and Unknown I only saw when I bought used blu-ray copies of the films of ebay. Maybe I enjoyed the films more because they were far more enoyable, or maybe I enjoyed them more because I didn't have to overspend on a theater ticket.

  2. CKulik says:

    I never got around to seeing this one, despite the fact I've actually liked Neeson's reinvention as an older action hero. That being said, one of my favorite Neeson performances is one nobody seems to remember, and that's in the 1987 film SUSPECT directed by Peter Yates (who also cast Neeson in 1983's KRULL) and starring Cher as a DC Public Defender who's forced to the case of a homeless Vietman vet who's deaf and dumb (played by Neeson). It's really his first great performance, I think, yet nobody seems to remember the movie. Might catch NON-STOP on Netflix, we shall see. 🙂

    • Wow, I do remember Suspect and you're right Neeson was good in it. That movie was on constant rotation on cable at one point. I remember at the time watching it thinking it was going to be one of the movies that would propel Dennis Quaid's career after The Big Easy – that never really happened though.

    • CKulik says:

      Well, it's interesting as 1987 was a banner year for both Cher (who won an Oscar for MOONSTRUCK as well as starring in this and THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK) and Quaid had done this, THE BIG EASY and INNERSPACE (love that flick!). But it's Neeson who I really remember, who's so strong without saying one single word.

      By the way, I did see that one recent film A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES which was pretty good….no classic, but pretty good. Glad I didn't mess with either of the TAKEN sequels, although I've heard the one that came out a few months ago was also really good.

  3. spaceodds says:

    Suspect, yet another forgotten thriller/courtroom drama that was all the rage back in the 80s. I know she's a lawyer, but I really hate the scene when she berates Neeson's character in court. It is a very difficult performance, having to act without words and using expressions and mime, and the reason why it works is because of Neeson's face and eyes. The guy could be ruthless, but boy when it comes to humanity he passes with flying colours.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but was Suspect Neeson's first Hollywood film? I know around this time he was in The Bounty with Mel Gibsonm Anthony Hopkins, and a then unknown Daniel Day Lewis, but I wonder if Suspect was the first film he actually made in the State?

    • CKulik says:

      Awesome! Another person who remembers SUSPECT, such an underrated movie. The scene where she berates him…yeah, she probably went too far with it. I actually have the physical screenplay in paperback form written by Eric Roth which I've used as a study sample for my own amateur screenwriting.

      SUSPECT was actually shot on-location in Washington DC, and I grew up near there so my parents and I both enjoyed that aspect of the movie very much. So, yes I guess you could technically consider it his first Hollywood feature; if anything, I thought it was first real breakthrough. Also loved John Mahoney as the judge and Joe Mantegna as the prosecutor.

      Really underrated movie and everyone I've shown it too always miss guessing who the killer is; Roger Ebert thought Roth "cheated" in his writing but if you pay close attention there is a real clue pointing towards the real killer in a scene where Cher asks for a continuance in the judge's chambers. 🙂

    • spaceodds says:

      I remember watching this back in the days when Frasier was all the rage (More than a decade has passed, but I still love that show. In my opinion it was the last great traditional sitcom) And watching Mahoney play that judge was anti-climactic. Good old Marty Crane… a ruthless judge? Still, I should have not held my breath since he played a similar role in Primal Fear

  4. I'm not sure if that was his first US film. I know I remembered him was when he showed up in The Dead Pool and at the time me thinking 'hey, that's the guy who was in Suspect!".

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