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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Non-Stop

NON-STOP

** SPOILERS **

"I hate flying!"

Non-Stop is the funniest airplane movie since Airplane! All it's missing is a jive talkin' granny and one of the pilots asking a young boy if he likes movies about gladiators. There is a young girl on the flight, but no one asks her if she's ever been to a Turkish prison. The latest output from the reliably prolific Liam Neeson Action-Thriller Factory, Non-Stop stars Neeson as a CIA agent US Air Marshal trying to stop a kidnapper terrorist from selling his daughter into sex slavery blowing up a trans-Atlantic airliner. An alcoholic loose cannon, Neeson receives a series of text messages mid-flight from a mysterious antagonist threatening to murder a passenger every twenty minutes if a hundred fifty million dollars isn't wired into an account opened in Neeson's name. In his zeal to discover who the villain is, Neeson ends up murdering the first victim for him in the lavatory. Oops. Soon, more bodies pile up from being mysteriously poisoned. Maybe they ate the fish.

Who is the real culprit on this ill-fated flight to London? It could be any of a half dozen shady characters Neeson encounters before the plane took off, including Julianne Moore, who is suspiciously hell bent on acquiring a window seat. Or it could be fellow Marshal Anson Mount, who just comes off like a smarmy creeper. Or it could be the black guy carelessly yakking on his cell phone, or that rat-like guy in the glasses bumming a smoke who claims he's on his way to Amsterdam. According to the Law of Economy of Characters, yes, it's definitely one of them. Neeson only trusts a couple of people on this Flight of Suspicion, one of whom is comely flight attendant Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary from Downton Abbey). Dockery unfortunately has little to do besides grow increasingly appalled as Neeson's actions grow increasingly ridiculous; he holds everyone on the flight hostage and hilariously smacks every suspect around headfirst into bulkheads, counters and seat backs. Neeson's superiors on the ground accuse him of being the one hijacking the plane, plastering his face on every newscast and sending air force fighter jets to shoot the airliner down.

All of Non-Stop is staged with grim solemnity. Neeson gets, at most, two moments to illegally smoke in the lavatory as a release from the relentless pressure of carrying the fate of 150 passengers on his weary Irish shoulders. When the real terrorists finally reveal themselves, Neeson practically has to lead the audience to resist rolling their eyes at the villains' hackneyed explanation tying this act of terrorism to 9/11 and condemning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The real lesson Non-Stop offers is that maximum enjoyment of Liam Neeson action-thrillers is directly proportional to the number of bad guys Neeson efficiently murders. Non-Stop disappointingly isn't about Neeson killing terrorists non-stop like the first Taken was, but still, one would still rather have Liam Neeson creating chaos on your flight than a bunch of motherfuckin' snakes on your motherfuckin' plane.

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