Non-Stop Excitement and Suspense
Release Date: February 28, 2014
Audience: Teenager and adults
Runtime: 106 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
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Stephen Burke, CEO, and Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBC Universal
Jeff Shell, President, Universal Studios
Diana Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures
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Liam Neeson stars as Bill Marks, a federal air marshal forced to get on a six-hour flight from New York to London that he really doesn’t want to fly. In the opening minutes of the movie, Bill has been shown sneaking some whiskey, smoking a string of cigarettes and walking with a boozy, world-weary paranoia through the airport. It’s his job to always be alert to any potential threat, but he’s been in the business so long that everyone has become a threat in his eyes.
Yet, he’s stuck on the plane and is trying to make the best of it. Out of the blue, he receives a text from an unknown passenger warning him that, if $150 million isn’t transferred to a bank account within 20 minutes, someone onboard is going to be murdered. With a crowded plane flying over the open Atlantic Ocean, hours away from the nearest airport, Bill doesn’t have a lot of options to figure out where the threat is coming.
Worse, he quickly realizes that he’s the victim of an elaborately planned setup designed to make him look like a disgruntled agent who’s taken the plane hostage himself. This twist is an elaborately planned one. It’s so perfectly rendered that, if it wasn’t Liam Neeson playing Bill, viewers might be wondering if his character is a lunatic with an axe to grind. The twist also leads to a whole string of unforeseen consequences that neither Bill nor the audience expect.
NON-STOP is a “Liam Neeson thriller,” which over the past five years since the first “Taken,” has become a genre unto itself. In these movies, you know he’s going to be a righteous but tough guy with a bunch of special skills, ranging from hand-to-hand combat to expert marksmanship and the ability to drive insanely through the traffic of exotic world capitals. In fact, anyone who crosses him will soon be whimpering in pain or literally dead. These movies also feature an above-average plot and a ferocious intensity rooted in his desire to save his family or the families of others. Neeson’s characters are decent men who find a moral purpose in their work, beyond the mere attempt to stay alive.
Neeson is once again perfect in this kind of role. Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who has been teaming up with Neeson on a string of thrillers, including UNKNOWN, keeps the story moving at a breakneck pace that befits the title. A solid supporting cast led by Julianne Moore gives Neeson plenty of assistance.
The one possible caveat to give viewers is that the actual villains turn out to be former soldiers in the Afghan and Iraq wars, who are bitter about having lost loved ones in 9/11. They deliver an angry speech about the security state that they believe America has become, which some viewers may find a bit too politically correct. NON-STOP also contains plenty of foul language, including some strong gratuitous profanities. So, strong caution is advised.
NON-STOP is a Liam Neeson thriller, which has almost become a genre unto itself. Neeson is once again perfect in this kind of role. Ably assisting him is a cast led by Julianne Moore. The director keeps the story moving at a breakneck pace befitting the title. NON-STOP has a strong moral worldview, but there is a light politically correct plot twist and plenty of PG-13 foul language. So, strong caution is advised.