by Niall McArdle
Liam Neeson grumbles and punches his way through a high-concept by-the-numbers thriller: a mixture of Murder on the Orient Express and Red Eye.
Non-Stop is a fairly enjoyable thriller set almost completely in the confines of an airplane flying at 30,000 feet. Neeson is a US Air Marshall who has to find out who’s killing passengers, and who is toying with him by sending him cryptic messages. Neeson’s character gets set up for the killings, and he has to find the killer while convincing the crew and passengers he doesn’t want to take the plane hostage.
This is a neat version of a locked-room mystery, and it has plenty of red herrings and much misdirection before the final reveal of the killer. In many ways, it’s an Agatha Christie novel up in the air, if Miss Marple was a 6’4″ gruff Irishman with a boxer’s nose and a certain growly charm.
The film is loaded with a lot of cliches of the genre: the hero has a tragic history and he drinks too much; the passengers are from The Hollywood School of Stock Characters You’d Find In A Disaster Movie (racist guy; self-important businessman guy; sympathetic air hostess chick; mature, reasonably good-looking pilot guy; token black guy; suspicious Arab-type guy who turns out to be okay in the end).
It’s probably best not to examine the script too much; it’s so full of plot-holes, I’m surprised the air pressure didn’t blast out of it and explode the film. Pat yourself on the back if you work out who the killer is early on (as I suspect you will.)
The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who worked with Neeson before on another high-concept B movie, Unknown.
Non-Stop also stars Julianne Moore, Linus Roache, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Lupita Nyong’o, Omar Metwally, Anson Mount, and Shea Wigham (wasted.)
Verdict: Three TSA Flagged Passengers Out of Five