Going “Non-Stop”

Neeson’s latest work excites despite underdeveloped subplots

From Ra’s al Ghul in “The Dark Knight” trilogy to Bryan Mills in the soon-to-be trilogy “Taken,” Hollywood has pretty much typecast Liam Neeson as a one-man wrecking crew. In his latest thriller-mystery, “Non-Stop,” Neeson once again explodes on the scene as Bill Marks, who takes a job as United States federal air marshal after being discharged from the police force.

Within minutes of takeoff, Neeson’s character receives an anonymous text message stating someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million dollars is wired into a bank account. Marks is then left to figure out which passenger is sending the series of ominous texts, the lives of the other passengers in his hands. As with all action movies, chaos ensues. The on-board terrorist manages to convince the TSA, the flight crew and many of the passengers Marks is in fact the one trying to take over the plane, and the marshal is forced to clear his name before he and all the passengers are left to die.

While “Non-Stop” was not as high quality as previous Neeson efforts, it was still a decent movie. Neeson starred alongside seasoned actress Julianne Moore and recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. Disappointingly, the women both played minor roles, though they complemented Neeson well.

Marks seems at the end of his rope in his personal life, a perpetual frustration upon his face. The way he talks about his daughter to passengers on the plane suggests a strained and practically nonexistent relationship. Still, the theme of redemption is only vaguely woven throughout the film. Marks is portrayed as a recovering alcoholic, though the film did not really use this theme to its advantage.

The game of cat-and-mouse between Neeson’s character and the terrorist keeps the film interesting and the audience on edge. The twist is not obvious — however, it is a bit anticlimactic. The film’s action plateaued after the second act, as if the directors simply got lazy. That being said, the rest of the movie makes up for the ending’s shortcomings.

I saw “Non-Stop” just days before the Malaysian flight disappearance so, in retrospect, the movie’s plot seems a lot more frightening. Despite its jarringly realistic premise, it is still worth a watch. Although not a “must-see” film, it is one of the better movies in theaters right now — unless, of course, you’re itching to see Neeson in the much simpler “The Lego Movie.”

Published March 28, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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