Liam Neeson is
Bryan Mills Bill Marks, an ex CIA Agent air marshal on an international flight that gets hijacked. It’s not a madman waving a gun, it’s an anonymous passenger texting Marks, telling him that unless $150 million is placed in an account, someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes. Will he find the terrorist and save his daughter from an Albanian sex trade?
I liked this way more than I thought I would. I had decided going into it that if it was better than Taken 2, I'd be happy. I mean it's Liam Neeson reprising his role as angry old man who's not afraid to bust someone's fuckin head open, so if the movie is at least OK I'll be content. I'll sit through just about any movie if I can get in the right mindset beforehand and set some basic expectations for it.
Sure there were some stupid parts. The movie isn’t a “get off my plane” action film, 90% of it is a whodunit, and with that genre come a lot of plot conveniences. Things happen at just the right time or tiny, innocuous details are noticed just in the nick of time by an old alcoholic air marshal, and connections are made just before shit hits the fan. That’s how most of these movies work. If they didn’t happen exactly like that at exactly that time, the plane would blow the fuck up and everyone would die and you’d leave without seeing Liam Neeson jump through the aisles while shooting at people. Is that what you want, you monster?
You can’t get away from the plot conveniences, and it’s as simple as that. If you don’t have them, the movie has a much higher chance of either being completely predictable and unintersting, or having a complete bullshit “oh it’s THAT guy? Really? Fuck you movie” twist at the end. So you take the implausability with a grain of salt and go with it until you reach the inveitable conclusion - Liam Neeson finding the culprit and a big ol’ gunfight breaking out. You have to ignore the fact that everyone in this movie acts like once you send a text it's impossible to delete it, so a viable form of finding the terrorist is just opening phones and looking at the most recent sent message. Of course it doesn't make any sense, but Liam Neeson is waving a gun around so just shut the fuck up and hand him your phone.
The setting is great. Being stuck in a plane mid-way over the Atlantic Ocean is a great way to ratchet up the tension. A good setting or sense of location can turn a good horror movie into a great one, and the sense of claustrophobia here really helps to make it more than an average thriller flick. It’s a nice twist on a Ten Little Indians setting where people are being picked off one by one, and you know it could only be one of a select few amount of people.
Character-wise, it’s the Liam Neeson show, and he brings it. The movie literally starts with him staring out a window looking fucking pissed, so you know right from Go what you’re getting. Even when he yawns before the plane takes off it’s the most intense yawn ever caught on film, like an angry, spiteful display at God for having the nerve to make him tired.
At one point he’s attacked by an agent, and he straight up murders that mother fucker in the bathroom. Whoever is holding the plane hostage is framing Liam so it looks like he’s the one taking over the plane (the account he’s asking the 150 million bucks for is in Liam’s name) so his boss fires him and demands the pilot take his badge and gun. Yes, that scene literally happens. So he hands them over, then takes the badge and gun off the body in the bathroom. He simply doesn’t give a shit and is going to save this plane under his own authority. Because he’s Liam Neeson.
The other characters are…whatever. Nobody is terrible or too hammy, they’re just there to be potential suspects until the end of the movie. Julianne Moore is the second billed star and has literally no purpose. She wanders into scenes for no reason and inserts herself into the situation because they paid her and god dammit she’s gonna get her screen time. Liam Neeson will find a body and she’ll just come floating into frame and ask what’s going on. This happens three or four times. It was pretty funny seeing the girl from 12 Years a Slave as some random stewardess who pops up all the time but has maybe 3 lines of dialogue. 12 Years a Slave had just come out 2 months prior and she’d end up winning an Oscar for it, but here she is in the tiniest of bit parts in some stupid plane movie.
Non-Stop is 90 minutes of whodunnit, then 10 minutes of hella dumb action. In other words, it’s exactly what I wanted. It’s got a neck getting broken, a blow-dart kill, a ham-handed 9/11 reference, and this happens
|If the ad campaign was this gif it would've made E.T. money|
So basically it’s the perfect movie. In all seriousness though I doubt I'll watch this as much as Taken, but it was more enjoyable than I thought it'd be. It was surprisingly entertaining, and nothing is better than popping in a movie with the most tempered expectations possible and leaving with a big shit eating grin. Once you know the twist, I don’t know how well the first 2 acts of the movie will hold up. The last act was so over the top it definitely made some of the eye rolling earlier worth it, but I can’t speak for you the reader on whether or not you’d put up with it after an initial viewing.
Final verdict: It’s an entertaining first watch, repeat viewings are up to you.
But what about Non-Stop tho