Friday, February 28, 2014

Non-Stop Movie Review

Liam Neeson carries Universal Pictures' Non-Stop

Mile High Fun

'Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight,' sounds like good advice... unless you happen to be on board an international flight with a pissed-off Liam Neeson as your Air Marshall. That's the case in Universal Pictures' wildly entertaining Non-Stop, an aerial romp full of comedy, mystery and tension... delivered in 20-minute bursts of ear-popping fun. It may not be worth its' $150 million ransom; but it's more than enough to cement Neeson's unofficial title as "Mr. February" when it comes to box office gold.

Rotten Tomatoes Plot: Global action star Liam Neeson stars in NON-STOP, a suspense thriller played out at 40,000 feet in the air. During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the government to transfer $150 million into an offshore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes. NON-STOP, which reunites Neeson with UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver, co-stars Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore and will be released by Universal Pictures on February 28, 2014. The StudioCanal production is also produced by Andrew Rona and Steve Richards.

What’s Best: 106 minutes flies by, thanks to Collet-Serra's nimble pace and a heavy dose of unfiltered Neeson. The 6'4 Irish badass ranks right up there with Dwayne Johnson as one of the most physically impressive action heroes in Hollywood. As in movies past (The Grey) Neeson's character seems to have nothing to live for; but manages to keep it all together just long enough to save the day. This time however, the former Oscar nominee gets to inject a little humor into his persona; and the results are nothing short of wonderful. Sure he kicks butt (lots of it) but he disarms a plane full of angry passengers with a promise of 'one year of free international travel.' 'Free international travel!' Talk about priceless.

Neeson also earns big laughs for smoking (duct tape... the Swiss Army knife of adhesives!) and a friendly rapport with passenger Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) who eventually becomes, "Ma'am," much to her chagrin. Add in an ever-changing, seemingly unlimited number of suspects, and you have all the makings of a really good movie.

What’s Not: I'll be the first to admit that Non-Stop isn't exactly "Shakespeare in the Sky." The acting borders on campy; and outside of Neeson & Moore, most everyone else in the cast will likely elicit, "Isn't that what's his/her name?" Michelle Dockery is that chick from Downton Abbey, who blames a 'juice fast' for her case of the shakes. Corey Stoll is that dude from the first season of House of Cards; and Lupita Nyong'o follows up her Oscar-nominated turn in 12 Years a Slave with a surprisingly bland, thankless role as Flight Attendant #2. Everything is far from "under control," but I loved it all the same.

Best Line: It's not so much a line, as a text (one of 100+ bubbled messages between Marks and the hijacker) but how do you argue with, 'That was exciting,' after yet another passenger bites the dust, presumably thanks to Marks' overzealous investigative skills. Almost ditto for a similar exchange where the terrorist pokes fun at Marks with, 'Who knows who you'll kill next?' The back & forth (complete with musical text tones) is a pivotal part to the film's success.

Overall: 'How do you kill someone aboard a crowded plane?' It's a valid question, but one that Ryan Engle, John W. Richardson, Chris Roach answer most deftly with their misdirection-laden screenplay. It bears some resemblance to Snakes on a Plane; but without the preposterous inclusion of snakes. I laughed a lot, jumped once (even when I knew something was about to happen) and thoroughly enjoyed Non-Stop. It did what all movies are supposed to do: It entertained. My advice? "Sit back, relax and enjoy the movie."