Non-Stop Review

Non-Stop

There was a period in the nineties when every action movie wanted to be the new Die Hard.

Each film that came along seemed to represent a new twist on the Bruce Willis shaped money spinner’s central gimmick: good-guy-plays-cat-and-mouse-with-bad-guy-within-a-confined-area-and-short-space-of-time.

We had Die Hard on a bus, also known as Speed.

Die Hard on a boat, aka Under Siege.

Die Hard on a nicer boat, aka Speed 2.

Die Hard on a train, aka Under Siege 2.

We even had Die Hard on a mountain, aka Cliffhanger.

So it didn’t take much imagination to concoct Die Hard on a plane, an idea that essentially provides the framework for latest Liam Neeson flying action vehicle Non-Stop.

Good old Neeson, from a background of playing historical figures like Rob Roy and Michael Collins, the guy has transformed himself into a bona fide action star.

Of course, he’ll always be Darkman to me.

The majority of his recent movies invariably involve him devastating various European cities in an unstoppable quest to look for, to find, and to ultimately kill the bad guy.

Typically featuring him forewarning the bad guy by phone.

But, fortunately for mainland Europe, the action in his latest film takes place about forty thousand feet above sea level.

Neeson plays Bill Marks, one of those haunted, alcoholic, law enforcement types that tend to frequent the action genre.

Marks boards a transatlantic flight to London and, before you can say redemption, finds himself in the unenviable position of being the passengers’ sole shot at survival.

Some anonymous antagonist starts sending him texts threatening to kill one passenger every twenty minutes unless a serious amount of dosh is transferred to an offshore bank account.

And so begins Marks’ battle. If ever there was call for an inflight whiskey.

Non-Stop rattles along at a decent pace with an intriguing conspiracy-theory concept, one which admirably has every possible twist and turn squeezed out of it before descending into a final half hour of gunshots, explosions and special effects.

Neeson is ably supported by Julianne Moore as one of Marks’ few allies on the flight, with small but welcome cabin crew turns given to Linus Roache, Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and current Oscar favourite Lupita Nyong’o.

The relative anonymity of the remaining cast only adds to the tension as Marks hunts for the on-board terrorist.

If you’ve seen Flightplan, you’ll recognise the story beats.

Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra spins out some impressive action scenes, with tightly choreographed set-piece within the tightest of spaces, while fans of Neeson beating up his fellow co-stars will not be disappointed.

Aficionados of inventive dialogue on the hand may not be so lucky, but to be fair Non-Stop never really promises this.

It’s preposterous at times, and most of the characters are thinly drawn, but the twists will keep you on your toes and Neeson makes sure you never really stop rooting for the good guy.

And isn’t that what a Liam Neeson action film is all about?

Conor Brennan

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February 2014
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