Director Jaume Collet-Serra and actor Liam Neeson have collaborated previously on the amnesia thriller Unknown and while it is tempting to refer to their latest collaboration Non-Stop as ‘Taken on a plane’, this film has more in common with Die Hard – the definitive contained thriller.
Bill Marks (Neeson) is a Federal Marshal aboard a plane flying to London who receives text messages threatening the lives of every passenger on the plane until the authorities wire 150 million dollars into a specific bank account. The kidnappers further instruct him to set his watch to countdown 20 minutes because that’s how long he has before someone on that plane dies.
Non-Stop works effectively as a contained thriller. There are enough nooks and crannies in the plane to avoid making the setting inert, or boring — I’m looking at you Phone Booth — but it is also not the best setting for producing a sense of urgency. There are several sections within this film that slacken because there was actually no really effective way to get from one moment of action, or tension, to the next, without going through those moments of lull. Whereas John McClane has his buddy on the street to talk to in those in-between moments, Marks is reduced to trying very hard to convince authorities on the ground, and the passengers in the plane that he isn’t the one orchestrating the hijacking.
Mr. Collet-Serra has acquired an impressive support cast for Mr. Neeson including Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Michele Dockery, and Lupita Nyong’o. As can happen in movies like this, not all of them end up having a lot to do. The one person who inhabits nearly every frame of this movie is Mr. Neeson and he does his usual solid job. The film features a couple of interesting gotcha moments and there is at least one surprise that doesn’t telegraph its presence.
Final Analysis: As a piece of entertainment, Non-Stop is solid. This is a more valid entry into Mr. Neeson’s recent career work as an action man of advancing years than last year’s Taken 2.
My Advice: If you are looking for a fun movie at the multiplex, Non-Stop is the one for you.