There has to be a truly special script for a thriller on a plane to work, especially a story where the antagonist is also on the plane. As the Non-Stop trailer asks, “How do you kill someone every 20 minutes on a plane and get away with it?” That’s a good question.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra works his magic with a pulse-pounding effort starring Liam Neeson as an Air Marshall who gets a text moments after the flight takes off saying that if this mystery person doesn’t get $150 million deposited into an online account in 20 minutes, someone will perish. And for each 20-minute period after that, another will die.
Neeson is no flawless hero. His Air Marshall clearly is not over some family issues, and when he begins the movie pouring booze into his coffee in his car before getting on the plane, something is definitely askew.
Seated next to him is Julianne Moore’s character, who sees someone in Neeson who is nervous to fly… even though he claims to do it all the time.
What is so fascinating about Non-Stop and largely why it works -- beyond the powerful screen presence that is Neeson -- is how we only get fragments about our characters as the film progresses. We don’t know much about Moore, Neeson or anyone else on the plane for that matter. And as such, anyone could be the suspect and anyone could be the hero. The question as the ante gets upped as time goes by is, who is who?
The flight in trouble in Non-Stop is going from New York to London, and in an age where Wi-Fi is available throughout the flight, it is fascinating how filmmakers and the screenwriters have weaved their web using technology that at once provides instant access, while simultaneously masking a perilous threat in a cloak of anonymity. Non-Stop is a unique thriller for our modern age and it does not shy away from frayed nerves still stung from the breach in security and massive loss of life that was 9/11.
Non-Stop is produced by Joel Silver, he who brought us everything from 48 Hours to Lethal Weapon to The Matrix and it truly feels like a Silver screen gem, through and through. There are holes in the story, but they’re not even big enough to bring down this speeding airliner of thrills.
Our Non-Stop review has to point out that the movie largely works because of the charm of its star. Audiences pull for Neeson’s characters to prevail, and his Air Marshall is no different. Sure, he’s flawed. But, he’s trying his best to do what’s right. He’s attempting to stop people from being killed, all within our national policy of not negotiating with terrorists. There are few actors that can pull off that balancing act of haunted and hero, but Neeson does it with such panache, it is continually an absolute joy to behold.
What other plane movies work? Click through and see Non-Stop and the company it keeps!
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