Solid suspense gives way to utter inanity.
Since he stormed the action world with Taken, Liam Neeson has pivoted nicely into a reliable cinematic badass. With Non-Stop he takes his gruff demeanor and devastating jawline to the friendly skies.
Neeson is Bill Marks, an Air Marshal cooling his heels on a trans-Atlantic flight. The plane ride is uneventful: he makes small talk with the redhead (Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights) next to him, and pops anti-anxiety meds like Junior Mints. Then he gets a disturbing text: someone on board is threatening to kill one passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is paid immediately.
As Marks investigates, he comes to the frightening realization that he has no surefire allies on the plane. Everyone is a suspect and the bad guys are more than willing to act on their ultimatums.
The good news: Liam Neeson still retains his badass status. The bad news: He does so in spite of a deeply silly movie. And look, anyone who knows how I roll with action movies, understands my threshold for silliness is vast. Give me some nifty mayhem and I’m willing to look past most ridiculous crap…Battleship aside.
But, fella, Non-Stop is a stretch.
It’s not necessarily the set-up. Though I have a hard time buying it’s as tough to track down one dickhead with a cell-phone on an airplane as the film portends, especially if you have the full complement on Federal resources at your disposal, I was willing to move past it and settle in for some airborne excitement. It’s a contrived gimmick, but the suspense generated is legit and I was ultimately able to move past the weirdness for what I was banking on being a satisfying payoff.
Alas, that’s when it all went upside down. I won’t go into spoilers, but the motivations behind the perpetrators’ plot are some of the dopiest I can recall. It immediately took me out of the fragile cocoon of disbelief I had constructed and made me long for more coherent characterization, like something you’d find in Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style. It was enough to short-circuit any enjoyment I had of the film and retroactively diminish the previous good tidings I had up to that point. Frustrating.
However, I just had a delicious sandwich with roast beef, salami, and horseradish dressing, so my mood is light and I don’t want to end this review on a harsh note. I may not be able to offer my recommendation, but perhaps you won’t react as negatively as I did to the reveal. If so, rest assured, Non-Stop delivers sustained suspense from the get-go. Not sustained action mind you. Despite the inference from its title, the film isn’t a roller-coast ride of jump-kicks and awesomeness. The thrills come from the hunt and the tension, with a handful of bodacious Neeson-powered fisticuffs peppered in to keep cavemen like me engaged.
Universal offers up a nice chunk of Blu-ray to chew on. The 2.40:1/1080p (MPEG-4 AVC) transfer looks great, highly detailed and ultra-clear. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, when called upon to let loose the fury, pounds. Bonus features are only a pair of disposable featurettes (“Non-Stop Action” and “Suspense at 40,000 Feet”), and digital copies for your portable device.
Guilty of getting my hopes up then blowing them out of the airlock.