Non-stop thrills? Check. Non-stop suspense? Check. Non-stop showcase of why Liam Neeson is the finest action star in movies today? Check. Although Non-Stop does not explain the reason for its title, I believe this succinctly encapsulates the gripping hold that it has over its audience for its entire 106-minute runtime.
The movie opens on Bill Marks’ (Liam Neeson) withered, shattered face framed with rain drops fallen on his car’s windshield, an apt symbolic image for his distraught state and pathetic fallacy for the events that are about to unfold. He pours a heavy hand of whiskey into his coffee cup, and hazily embarks on his daily routines at work as an Air Marshal. Before boarding his flight he warily scans the lounge, and makes small talk with his fellow passengers. The eclectic, sundry group include an attractive, mysterious redhead (Julianne Moore), a little girl terrified of flying (Quinn McColgan) that reminds him of his dead daughter, an NYPD officer (House of Cards’ Corey Stoll), a fellow Air Marshal (Anson Mount, better known to me as the love interest in the Britney Spears starring ‘Crossroads’), a chatty teacher (Scoot McNairy), a Muslim Doctor (Omar Metwally), and flight attendants Nancy and Gwen (Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Academy Award hopeful Lupita Nyong’o, respectively).
Not long after takeoff, however, Marks receives a threatening message on his mobile device (itself used as a campy narration device on screen, complete with autocorrect capabilities): 150 million dollars must be transferred to a disclosed account; otherwise a person on the place will be murdered every 20 minutes.
Without giving anything away, the following ninety or so minutes that ensue provide an edge of your seat whodunit (where everyone, at one point or another, is suspiciously viewed as the potential villain) and copious self-aware preposterous plot twists. Led by Neeson, the otherwise largely specialty television based actors (including Boardwalk Empire and True Detective’s Shea Whigham) share a palpable familiar rapport with one another, and the tender chemistry between former ‘Chloe’ leads Neeson and Moore is charmingly used to great effect.
Jaume Collet-Serra’s Non-Stop is exhilaratingly and unabashedly fun, an entertaining popcorn movie that audiences in multiplexes are sorely lacking these days.