It should be a general rule that no one should ever mess with Liam Neeson. This is the same guy that trained Obi-Wan and Bruce Wayne. He has managed to stave off the Third Reich, man-eating wolves and Harrison Ford’s awful Russian accent. The moral of the story is – Anyone who crosses the path of Liam Neeson is toast. He has a very particular set of skills and he knows how to use them.
Which brings us to Neeson’s latest over-the-hill action flick, Non-Stop. Keep in mind, this guy is 62, so if I ever mock his age, it’s just because I am worried about him pushing himself too hard. But apparently he never quits… errr, stops.
In Non-Stop, Neeson plays Bill Marks, an alcoholic Air Marshal with a few unresolved issues. While on an overseas flight from New York to London, he receives a mysterious text message that claims someone will die every 20 minutes unless a large sum of money is wired to a secret account. Marks, who is well past his prime, deliriously searches for the texter to eliminate the threat. Everyone becomes a suspect, whether it’s a fellow passenger (Julianne Moore) or even a flight attendant (played by Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery). While Marks combs through the plane for suspects, all the evidence leads others to believe that Marks himself may be the culprit.
Non-Stop desperately wants to be a modern Hitchcock thriller. I can’t give it credit for succeeding, yet it keeps you guessing who the real big bad is. Sorry to say this, but when you find out, it’s a disappointment. Without spoiling too much, the villain is trying to prove a point through tragic means and Neeson’s character simply says “Why don’t you just write a pamphlet?!” before punching this person in the face. It’s a great moment that echoes the best one-liners of ’80s action flicks.
This movie does revitalize Neeson as a bankable action star. Unknown and Taken 2 dented his armor, but Non-Stop gives him back some credibility. However, I may not have ever noticed this before, but Liam Neeson always speaks in a gruff whisper. That could be due to the fact that he’s on a plane and trying not to alarm other passengers, but he rarely ever raises his voice the entire movie.
Fans of Downton Abbey will be happy to see Lady Mary get a pretty significant role. She is still as waif-like as ever, but she manages to throw down more or less, in a proper way of course.
This movie will only work if you’re willing to go along for the ride. As the title suggests, if you don’t ever stop to think about what you’re watching, you’ll be just fine. But the second you say, “Hey, wait a second…” the movie has lost you. Each plot contrivance is begging you to not think too much about how convenient it all seems to be.
What I’m trying to say is, this is a movie for your over-the-hill dad. It’s the kind of pointless popcorn that is easy to digest and ends satisfyingly enough.
Non-Stop surprised me at how little it sucked. On the other hand, it never achieved more than goodness. It is entirely average, yet for Neeson’s recent work, that is above par. Non-Stop is worth renting. I just hope Liam Neeson never reads my reviews.