Liam Neeson’s rise to becoming one of the most trustworthy action heroes in world cinema continues with his latest thriller Non-Stop, as his days as Oscar Schindler feel like a long time ago, and following on from the likes of Taken, Unknown and The Grey, he takes on the role of air marshal Bill Marks, called into action on a transatlantic flight from America to London.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop takes place predominantly on this plane, where Marks receives a series of threatening text messages, as an unnamed passenger on the flight has tapped into the FBI’s network, promising to murder a fellow passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is credited into his account. With everybody considered to be a potential terrorist – ranging from Jen Summer (Julianne Moore) in the seat next to him, to his colleague Jack Hammond (Anson Mount), it transpires that the number one suspect is in fact Marks himself, as the account the money is to be transferred to belongs to him. Hoping to save everybody on board, Marks now has a task on his hands to convince everybody that he is trying to protect them, and not kill them.
Non-Stop is completely illusory, but thoroughly entertaining, as a film that is unashamed of its approach and a real homage to action thrillers of old, no doubt helped along by the fact that Joel Silver, the man behind the likes of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, is producing. What also comes with such territory, however, is a lack of ingenuity, because the film is overly formulaic and unimaginative. In the meantime, Collet-Serra plays with the audience’s perceptions, and makes us desperately attempt to resolve the case and discover who is behind the threats. It is a tense and yet exceedingly fun affair and you simply can’t trust anybody, not even Marks, who is volatile and emotionally unstable – a truly unpredictable entry point into this tale.
Neeson steals the show, bringing a human touch to this character and allowing us to step into his shoes – a vital ingredient in films of this ilk working, as we need to see the ‘everyman’ quality in our lead to appreciate the situation at hand. Oh, and there’s a cameo from a certain Luipta Nyong’o, playing a member of the cabin crew, though one suspects that this might not be quite as memorable a role as the one she’s likely to win an Oscar for in 12 Years a Slave. Call it a hunch.