During a transatlantic flight from America to London, air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), alongside his colleague Jack Hammond (Anson Mount), are called into action when the former receives several text messages from somebody onboard the plane, threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless 150 million dollars is credited to his account. Though what they can’t figure out – is that the account is under Marks’ name. While desperately attempting to work out who is behind these threats and ensure the safety of his fellow passengers, such as Jen Summer (Julianne Moore) sitting beside him, Marks turns from potential hero to prime suspect, as those on board assume this is all a ploy to hijack the plane himself. Such discernment only seeks in making matters somewhat harder for a man who is trying to rescue these innocent civilians before it’s too late.
Though completely illusory for the most part, you can’t deny the entertainment factor with Non-Stop, as a film that’s exceedingly good fun, unashamed and unrelenting in its approach (and not one to be taken at face value). It would be extremely easy (and time consuming) to pick holes in this picture, but it’s almost not worth it. That being said, let’s pick some holes. It’s highly unoriginal and formulaic, and the fact it feels like we’ve been here a million times before is a rather detrimental shortcoming. However the setting works effectively, as being up on a plane gives our characters a feeling of vulnerability, as you feel so isolated and helpless up in the sky, while a sense of claustrophobia remains prevalent throughout.
Non-Stop may be frustratingly cliched, with various red herrings thrown into the mix for good measure, but it’s fair to say that writers John W. Richardson, Chris Roach and Ryan Engle always remain one step ahead of you, as a film that keeps its audience guessing from start to finish, making for a tense cinematic experience. You never know quite who to trust, and it’s a notion helped along by our unpredictable protagonist. More often than not our lead is the only person you can put your faith in, but in this instance Marks is a shady character and you’re never quite sure what his next move will be. His alcoholism adds a weakness to his demeanour, and a volatility that makes him a beguiling lead and an intriguing, elusive entry point into this tale.
Neeson, as always, is a dependable leading man, as somebody who just demands authority and carries such humility. But that accent… Either make him Northern Irish or American, because this strange hybrid just isn’t working for anyone. Talking of rather bad accents, there’s a supporting role for 12 Years a Slave stare Lupita Nyong’o, though it’s not quite as memorable as her Oscar nominated performance to say the least. Moore impresses as always, though she is sadly hindered by an extremely one dimensional character, who in the grand scheme of things, is entirely superfluous to the plot.
The whole concept to Non-Stop is completely hackneyed and frivolous, but remains compelling given the fast paced, guessing game that ensues. That being said, by the time the closing credits roll (and after the “unbelievable twist” news report), you’re rather pleased Non-Stop contradicts its title, and comes to an abrupt end.