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Review: Non-Stop

Feb. 27, 2014by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: An air marshal (Liam Neeson) on a routine flight gets a mysterious series of texts warning him that unless $150 million is transferred into a special account, every twenty minutes a passenger will be killed. Meanwhile, his bosses on the ground think he's the one trying to hijack the plane, as the account he's supplied them with is in his name.

REVIEW: Mid to late winter is usually a pretty good time for a Liam Neeson actioner. Ever since TAKEN became a blockbuster in the winter of 2009 this has been his sweet spot. Outside the occasional exception like THE GREY, Neeson's winter-thrillers tend to be b-level, PG-13 action programmers centred around a relatively simple concept. Sure, we've seen Neeson try to find his kidnapped daughter (twice), fight wolves, and lose his memory (UNKNOWN) but ah, crazy as it may seem we've never seen him thwart an airplane hijacking.

Luckily, that's being remedied with NON-STOP, with him joining the ranks of Wesley Snipes (PASSENGER 57), Kurt Russell (EXECUTIVE DECISION) and Jodie Foster (FLIGHT PLAN) as the type of passenger you want with you on that international flight. Coming from Jaume Collet-Serra who not only directed Neeson in UNKNOWN, but has already wrapped another actioner with him , RUN ALL NIGHT, which is due out next February NON-STOP is the usual efficient programmer. Neeson's pretty much a 21st century Charles Bronson at this point (which would have seemed unlikely a decade ago), but people love watching him pummel guys half his age. The thing that's great about Neeson is that even at sixty-one, he still looks tough, and moves well. NON-STOP is probably the ideal vehicle for an older action hero such as himself, in that he doesn't have to run around too much or pull off impossible stunts. By necessity, all the hand-to-hand scraps are done in close quarters, and as a result the fights are more convincing than the bigger brawls in some of his other recent action flicks.

While Neeson's never going to get the critical raves he gets for his more serious roles for his action films, he makes for a good, likable lead. People flock to see his movies because they like him, and he delivers his usual, capable performance. Even if the movie is just b-level you can be sure his acting is not. While some of the plotting is clich, with him being introduced chugging a glass of whisky while looking at a photo of his daughter (see he's troubled!) or downright clumsy (he's an air marshal but he's afraid to fly?) this corniness gives NON-STOP a somewhat endearing quality in that it's so simple.

While UNKNOWN was pretty draggy, here Collet-Serra jumps right into the action, with no more than twenty minutes having gone by before Neeson's first scrap, an impressively staged fight in the plane's commode. While the constant on-screen texting gets a bit tiresome, to the movie's credit the identity of the culprit or culprits is never too obvious, and while it's far from Hitchcockian it never ceases to entertain.

One of NON-STOP's strengths is the cast, with all of the supporting players being big enough character actors that any one of them could be the baddie. Is it Julianne Moore as the flirty gal sharing Neeson's aisle? DOWNTON ABBEY's Michelle Dockery as the helpful flight attendant? Corey Stoll as the loud-mouth NYC cop? Nate Parker? Scoot McNairy? The only downside to this is that when the baddie is finally revealed (with the motives behind the hijacking being predictably lame), the other names in the cast are left with relatively little to do. As a result, this is squarely Neeson's show, with him never being off-screen for more than a second or two.

Through it all, NON-STOP moves along at a fast-pace, and while it's often goofy especially in the big action climax featuring the money shot from the trailers where Neeson flies through the air guns blazing it's always fun. This is a real check-your-brain-at-the-door kind of movie, but as long as you can accept it on that level you should have a pretty good time. While it would probably work just as well on Netflix or Blu-ray, it's a decent 100 minutes of entertainment, and Neeson's (many) fans will no doubt be satisfied.

Extra Tidbit: I know these guys will love it.
Source: JoBlo.com

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1:12AM on 02/27/2014
Well it looks better than Taken 2 at least, no way I'd pay to go see it but when its free on the movie channel, all over it.
Well it looks better than Taken 2 at least, no way I'd pay to go see it but when its free on the movie channel, all over it.
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1:12AM on 02/27/2014
It's one of those movies that's actually arresting and intriguing in the moment, but kind of crumbles apart when you think too much about it following the reveal. Still, there's something to be said about Jaume Collet-Serra efficiently maintaining the mood and the tension and I still enjoyed it even though there's a huge dose of "fridge logic" (as TV Tropes put it, when you walk to the fridge after watching the movie and you realise there are plot holes).
It's one of those movies that's actually arresting and intriguing in the moment, but kind of crumbles apart when you think too much about it following the reveal. Still, there's something to be said about Jaume Collet-Serra efficiently maintaining the mood and the tension and I still enjoyed it even though there's a huge dose of "fridge logic" (as TV Tropes put it, when you walk to the fridge after watching the movie and you realise there are plot holes).
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1:20AM on 02/27/2014
I started reading the article and was excited for a minute, when I thought I read that Wesley Snipes was in this too (too bad he's not)! I kinda figured as much from this film after seeing the trailer. I'm sure I will see it, but probably just a rental for me.
I started reading the article and was excited for a minute, when I thought I read that Wesley Snipes was in this too (too bad he's not)! I kinda figured as much from this film after seeing the trailer. I'm sure I will see it, but probably just a rental for me.
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2:11AM on 02/27/2014
Liam Neeson in an action movie - ticket sold for me.
Liam Neeson in an action movie - ticket sold for me.
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2:21AM on 02/27/2014
LIam Neeson is one of the very, very few actors I can always rally behind, no matter what he's in. Will check out this weekend.
LIam Neeson is one of the very, very few actors I can always rally behind, no matter what he's in. Will check out this weekend.
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2:35AM on 02/27/2014
Glad to read a positive review for this or at least for us Neeson fans. Will definitely be checking this film out this weekend as it looks like a fun time at the movies.
Glad to read a positive review for this or at least for us Neeson fans. Will definitely be checking this film out this weekend as it looks like a fun time at the movies.
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+5
2:49AM on 02/27/2014
Saw it last night, had a fuckin' blast. Neeson is on a roll and God bless the man for it at the tender age of 61. I was fully engrossed in this popcorn movie and was riding along all the way to the end. Good shit.
Saw it last night, had a fuckin' blast. Neeson is on a roll and God bless the man for it at the tender age of 61. I was fully engrossed in this popcorn movie and was riding along all the way to the end. Good shit.
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+0
11:04AM on 02/27/2014
Can't complain about that. I've always been able to check my brain out for an entertaining film, so I imagine I will have fun with this. This and Wind Rises will be my films to see this weekend.
Can't complain about that. I've always been able to check my brain out for an entertaining film, so I imagine I will have fun with this. This and Wind Rises will be my films to see this weekend.
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11:37AM on 02/27/2014

I'm Not Hijacking This Plane. I'm Trying to Save It!

For that classic line alone they can take my 10 dollars right now.
For that classic line alone they can take my 10 dollars right now.
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+1
6:07PM on 02/27/2014
Non-Stop looks like so much fun, I can't wait to see it this weekend.
Non-Stop looks like so much fun, I can't wait to see it this weekend.
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9:46AM on 02/28/2014
Regardless of the movie quality Liam Neeson just kills it in these roles.
Regardless of the movie quality Liam Neeson just kills it in these roles.
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2:15PM on 03/04/2014

Fun fact

Lupita Nyong'o also had a minor role in this as the other flight attendant
Lupita Nyong'o also had a minor role in this as the other flight attendant
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