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NON-STOP – Review

February 28, 2014

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia


Photography By Myles Aronowitz

Non-Stop is an entertaining action thriller starring Liam Neeson who re-teams with the director of Unknown, Jaume Collet-Serra, to take us on another suspenseful and adrenaline-fuelled deadly pursuit of truth and justice. Neeson is Bill Marks, a troubled federal air Marshall who embarks on an ill-fated flight: mid-air he is confronted with a terrorist threat from a passenger via phone, who will kill a fellow passenger every twenty minutes until the demands are met. The inhabitants entombed at high altitude all become suspects, including Marks, a man who lives his life on a diet of suspicion, paranoia and alcohol. He furiously endeavours to uncover the truth and those responsible before it’s too late but to the authorities on the ground and to the audience, Marks’ trustworthiness becomes more and more questioned and compromised with each taut development.

The film is written by John Richardson and Chris Roach and is produced by Joel Silver and Silver Pictures, who previously produced action classics such as 48 Hrs, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Road House, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes. With Neeson’s success in Taken and its sequel, Non-Stop aims to continue these great actioners’ tradition. He is joined by Julianne Moore, who shines in her role as Jen Summers, the passenger Marks enlists as his aid. The film also features Scoot McNairy from 12 Years A Slave, Argo and Killing Them Softly and Nate Parker, who starred in Arbitrage and Red Tails. Lupita Nyong’o joins her 12 Years A Slave cast member as flight attendant Gwen, whose Grace Jones look is definitely worth checking out. The supporting cast works well, especially Nate Parker who proves once again he is a talent to take notice of. The rest of the passengers unfortunately do little to truly stand out or make a real impact.

Where the film falls especially short is in its screenplay. The dialogue at times seems clichéd, as do the characters and the story line. There is only one truly laugh out loud moment, funnily enough from Neeson, and the majority of the intended comic lines seem inorganic and contain jokes that do not seem natural. The action scenes are also too short and too few in number, and as a film marketed as a non-stop action ride, it does not compare to the action-fuelled rollercoasters of Speed or even Snakes on a Plane. The former had a solid screenplay, breath-taking stunts and an excellent on screen relationship between hero and villain while the latter was tongue in cheek, non-stop excitement. Non-Stop doesn’t entirely satisfy as an action film or as an action-comedy and as a consequence doesn’t make for essential viewing.

Non-Stop

In addition, its usage of racial profiles to create suspicion and suspense from its audience, only serves to really enforce them through their inclusion. Plus the characters seem generic and void of any substance and its shaky story prevents it from being a great thriller. Thus, the finale of the film is indeed spectacular in its action, but fails in a clear sense of resolution of the story or viewer satisfaction. Unlike the awesome airplane action films Con Air and Passenger 57, Non-Stop is not the action film I had expected. The screenplay, despite having a thrilling premise, is un-ambitious in its overall vision, and is without a distinct voice and purpose.

If it is merely to entertain, then it should do so with full satisfaction. Yet, Neeson does a good job in his performance as Marks, whose personal conflicts and violent confrontations are believable and engaging. Also, as a film set mostly in the static location of a plane, Collet-Serra portrays the action and thrills with great skill and conveys a strong sense of atmosphere and tension with even a jump scare moment. However, the few fight scenes and stunt pieces albeit memorable and thrilling, do leave you wanting a lot more. What’s most important though is that this action thriller is about in-flight international terrorism and the screenplay does little to inform an important message or evoke emotion. Luckily for the plane and the audience, Neeson is on board to entertain and save the day like only he can.

Non-Stop is released in UK cinemas on February 28th

Sidney Malik