Non-Stop is a rote, incompetent thriller that wastes Liam Neeson’s talents as both a serious actor and reborn action star. The movie follows Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), an air marshal with alcoholic tendencies that starts off the film by drinking at 5:30 AM before a flight to London. Clearly he has issues. There are hints of his past as a police officer and his failed marriage and presumably estranged child, but the film shrouds these details in secrecy until they have maximum effect, much like it does with its central plot points. That’s primarily why it fails; information is only doled out when the filmmakers deem fit, not realizing that the audience has to sit through confusing set-ups and virtually non-stop (get it?) red herrings. Marks, on his secure network that only air marshals can use, communicates with a man that threatens to kill a person on the plane every twenty minutes if $150 million is not wired to an account. Marks refuses, a passenger dies, and the hunt begins.
What could’ve been Taken on an airplane becomes seriously absurd and overly melodramatic. Here’s a film that should have embraced its overly cartoonish nature and not simply depended upon guessing which passenger has committed this act of terrorism. There is no semblance of character development for any of the supposed suspects, so why do we care who did it? The movie lacks subtlety and hopes to create a protagonist similar to Neeson’s more powerful presence in The Grey, but instead uses his dramatic capabilities to deliver speeches about his feelings and past to spell out everything for the audience. Yet what becomes most offensive about the film is its remarkably forced commentary about post-9/11 security near the conclusion. Not only was I thrown off by the sheer improbability of the character’s motivations, but the anarchistic and hostile dialect rubbed me the wrong way and created an unsettling nature about the film’s conclusion. Non-Stop thankfully does stop, but not before it sends a bad, uneven message about terrorism.
Grade: ★½ (out of 5)