Movie Review: ‘Non-Stop’

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 12:00 am.

(Photo: Universal Pictures)

Summary: The friendly skies are a living nightmare when a terrorist harasses a federal air marshal with a drinking problem. But this isn’t your average terrorist; it’s a texter with impeccable grammar demanding 150 million dollars. William Marks, played by Liam Neeson, must find out which one of the crafty passengers is the texting terrorist or someone onboard will be killed every 20 minutes.

Review: Liam Neeson is the king of junk food action flicks. Audiences should expect no great plot, mediocre acting and nothing memorable. If you want a formulaic, brainless action thriller, Non-Stop is your movie. Does this mean Non-Stop is a great film? No! Does this mean Non-Stop is a bad film? Nope! It’s an irrelevant action movie, but not without entertainment value.

Non-Stop is one of those movies where you ask the person next to you, “How is that possible?” Start with the most glamorous trans-Atlantic airplane I have ever seen equipped with a live feed to New York 1 across the Atlantic Ocean (you can’t even get New York 1 in Jersey!), impeccable Wi-Fi that can handle video uploading and hacking into a federal computer network — all while suffering through ungodly turbulence. I can’t even get a phone signal during a Nor’easter!

But endure the wild suspension of disbelief, and Non-Stop does its job. The film moves quickly, so it’s easy to ignore the stupidity of each conflict (like the bizarre deaths that happen every twenty minutes) or the hilarious reaction from frantic passengers.  That said, Neeson as the air marshal on the hunt for the texting terrorist is suspenseful enough. It’s a who-done-it in the sky. Is it the stewardess? A frantic NYPD officer? A bearded Muslim who everyone is giving the eye? A muscular computer programmer (Nate Parker)? Maybe Neeson as Bill Marks is the culprit? In the end, the answer is basic and the logic on how the terrorist managed to pull off such an elaborate hijacking is ludicrous.

The film includes a solid and diverse cast with Nate Parker, Julianne Moore and this year’s “it” girl Lupita Nyong’o. Unfortunately, we don’t get much from the fashionista, who is now an Oscar nominee for 12 Years a Slave. Surely Jaume Collet-Serra, the director, would have given the Kenyan actress a larger role had he known she would be up for an Academy Award two days after the film’s release.

An unexpected plus, there is subtle commentary on stereotyping of terrorists. In addition, Non-Stop clearly critiques the media running with a story and not fact checking, which results in more chaos in the sky.

Liam Neeson is the granddaddy of action films. The Oscar winner’s stoic, deep-voiced, monotone, but — most importantly — likable demeanor is consistently entertaining. You want him to win and he always does.

Non-Stop is in theaters now.

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