Non Stop – Neeson by numbers is still great fun

Liam-Neeson-Non-StopBY NOW WE know what to expect from a ‘Liam Neeson Film’: he will growl at people, he will get in fist fights, everyone will marvel at how good he looks for 61 (no seriously, he is 61). Non Stop doesn’t really do enough to differentiate itself from other Neeson films nor recent other ‘terror at 10,000 feet’ style films like Robert Shwentke’s not quite as good as this Flightplan, or Wes Craven’s certainly better Red Eye. For what it is though, it’s a fun hour and three quarters at the cinema.

Non-Stop stars Neeson as Bill Marks, A Northern Irish air marshal who springs into action during a transatlantic flight to London after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account. It really enjoys using dangling causes and ticking clocks through its commitment to the standard hostage crisis trope of every twenty minutes, a passenger will be killed. The film sets up within the first scene Neeson as tortured by showing him drinking and brooding in his car and doesn’t let up in reminding you intermittently that he has a tragic past. If you are the kind of person who is expecting a shocking mystery, it isn’t difficult to unravel the plot and work out where it’s going right down to who did it, who will die and how it ends.

Despite having a relatively predictable script, the cast make it work. Neeson is still at his gravelly best, selling both the brutal action and the tragic gravitas of his character, there is able support from the likes of Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy and Corey Stoll as various suspects/allies. There is a slight sense of over-clipping in the English accents of the flight crew but for the most part, it isn’t a major issue and the acting maintains the tone and feeling for the entire film.

If you’re reading this and you enjoyed any of the recent cycle of Neeson films such as Taken, Unknown or the surprisingly affecting The Grey, you will know what to expect and whether you are going to enjoy this. It isn’t big, it isn’t particularly clever but it doesn’t try to be. It’s an effective thrill ride (if not the non-stop one promised by the title) and frankly there are worse ways to spend an hour.

One note: I don’t know whether I just don’t take the wrong planes, but I’ve never seen an English airline flying planes as fancy as the ones flown by ‘British Aqualantic’. It seems like the closest they got to understanding England is still the assumption that we all live in luxury. Then again, the main flight attendant is played by Lady Mary from Downton Abbey so go figure.

Non-Stop is currently on at the Commodore cinema until Thursday.