Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is having a bad day. Feeling the effects of a long night of drinking he doesn’t look forward to the next 6 hours, when he’s going to be trapped with 150 other passengers on an airplane heading towards England. He begs with his boss to have someone else do the job but is rebuffed. Reluctantly he boards and takes his seat. He wishes he had a smoke. And a new job. Bill is an air marshal and he’s having a bad day. It’s about to get worse.
Tense and well told, “Non Stop” is another feather in the directorial cap of James Collet-Serra, the Spanish filmmaker who is responsible not only for this film but recent achievements like “Unknown” and “Orphan.” The excitement starts after take-off when Bill receives a text message, on his official business phone, telling him that without his cooperation a passenger is going to die in the next 20 minutes. Bill is given a bank account number and told to have the airline wire $150 million into it. Bill notifies his superiors but they’re a little wary of the information, considering the bank account is set up in Bill’s name! The next 80 minutes is a wild ride, one you could easily call “non-stop.”
I never would have suspected, after such films as “Schindler’s List,” “Nell” and “Before and After” that Liam Neeson would become one of the more popular, and credible, action stars making films today. Even his brief turn as the shotgun wielding Briar in “Next of Kin” didn’t hint at the quiet, thoughtful bad-ass he’s become. Literally working against time (the blackmailer has assured him that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless his demands are met), Bill must rely on his friendship with crew members, and the nice traveler that sat down next to him (Moore), to deal with a situation that continues to get worse, especially when news reports, triggered by passenger text messages, label Bill the hijacker.
As mentioned, Neeson is again solid as a man with faults he must overcome to save those around him. As his nervous seatmate, Moore has little to do but what she does have she does well. Several of the supporting actors, including Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Michelle Dockery and this coming Sunday’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o (how’s that for putting it all on the line) also contribute to the film. The action sequences, both inside and outside the plane are also well executed. The only thing I was disappointed in was the film’s “message,” which really doesn’t fit with the characters delivering it. However, that being said, the film is well worth seeing.