When Neeson was announced at the forefront of 2008’s smash-hit blockbuster Taken, as divorced ex-CIA agent Bryan in an attempt to rescue his kidnapped daughter, the world was confused. How can this middle-aged actor, famous mostly for his sincere role in Holocaust drama Schindler’s List (1993) tackle such a demanding action role like this one? Yet, Neeson blew everybody away, and Taken became the most surprising worldwide phenomenon of the noughties.
Since we discovered Neeson is actually one of the best action stars in the industry, he is consistently in demand for similar roles. Non-Stop therefore shows us a side of Neeson that we have all seen countlessly before. Despite the samey character – a troubled man of authority with his own personal demons getting in the way of his work – this film is actually alright. It was inevitable that the release of Non-Stop was going to get people talking - half of them with excitement, and the other half with dubiousness. I’ll admit, I was a dubious one, but Non-Stop fulfils its purpose, proving to be highly thrilling and will definitely have you on the edge of your seat.
Air Marshall/alcoholic Bill Marks (Neeson) is aboard a flight to London when he starts receiving texts from an anonymous passenger demanding $150 million to be paid into a numbered account, or every twenty minutes, a passenger’s life will suffer the consequences. True to the title, from here on, the suspense is non-stop. Neeson drags suspects down aisles, waves his gun around, searches innocent travellers, fighting anyone who stands in his way, to simply find out who is behind this terrifying blackmailing - and after a good twenty minutes, the suspense becomes a little unwatchable.
With films like this, it is hard to mistake your anticipation and endless questioning for genuine enjoyment, and it is only after much deliberation do you see beneath the intense façade to discover a plot that lacks logicality and girth. It’s true that throughout the film the audience are biting their nails and watching through cracks in between their fingers, but once we find out who is the bad guy behind it all, you may find yourself asking whether the unbearable stress was even worth it.
Neeson is however. There’s nothing new to see but he does the job and pulls it off relatively well. Julianne Moore is ridiculously under-cast as Jen, an aloof woman who kind of acts as Bryan’s sidekick throughout. Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery is Nancy, the air-hostess, and there’s no faulting her performance – it is her dreary character that deserves some stick. The same goes for 12 Years A Slave star, the up and coming Lupita Nyong’o, who doesn’t have the chance to show her talented abilities as air hostess Gwen, which is a shame.
Collet-Serra undeniably brings us a thriller oozing with sophistication and tension. His camera shots and action sequences are spot on, and Non-Stop truly does entertain for the most part. It is just a bit of a waste given how unrealistic and typical the storyline really is. If you’re the kind to look into the finer details and criticise anything short of perfection, then stay clear away from the movie theatre for this one. However if you’re easily pleased and love a cheap thrill, then Non-Stop won’t disappoint.