By Richard Haridy
July 2, 2014
Non-Stop is another entry in Liam Neeson‘s late-career shift towards gruff, sombre action pictures. Teaming up again with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, after the surprisingly engaging Unknown, Neeson offers up a compelling turn in a film that is fast-paced and filled with satisfying twists.
The less said about the plot the better as the narrative reveals strategically placed throughout are a great part of the fun. All you need to know is that Liam Neeson plays a US Air Marshal who begins receiving odd phone messages while aboard a flight over the Atlantic. The messages threaten to kill a person on board the plane every 20 minutes until $150 million is paid into a special bank account.
Is the evil culprit on board too? Why have they chosen Neeson to be the catalyst? These are just two questions this clever screenplay toys with, as the feature plays like a locked-room whodunit mystery for much of its running time. Neeson is amusing as the increasingly paranoid protagonist and an impressive supporting cast featuring Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy and Lupita Nyong’o all elevate this B-grade material by treating it much more seriously than it deserves.
Non-Stop moves like the type of tight little thrillers that were popular in the 1990s but don’t really get made much anymore. Recalling everything from Under Siege to Air Force One and Nick Of Time, this is a dumb movie made by very smart craftspeople who know exactly how to pitch and pace exciting cinema. The final act is inevitably over the top and slightly anti-climactic, but any flick so fundamentally centered around its mysteries will always lose momentum as the reveals finally arrive. The filmmakers deeply understand this trap of the genre and the time between final reveal, climax and end credits is absurdly brisk.
For a good 80 minutes, Non-Stop delivers exactly what the title promises – an escalating series of exciting set-pieces with a great, mysterious backbone. This is top grade Hollywood entertainment.
Non-Stop will be available from Quickflix on July 3, 2014.