Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review of NON-STOP: Escalating Thrills

March 4, 2014

Beginning with "Taken" in 2008, Liam Neeson has really been going to town with his yearly action films which really hit the spot among movie fans. There had been no more projects of "Schindler's List" level, but his latest movies had been more shallow fun and excitement for the audiences to enjoy than for the critics. With the title alone, this latest film of his, "Non-Stop" follows that same successful trend.

This action-thriller is set in the claustrophobic confines of a passenger airplane in a trans-Atlantic flight. Bill Marks is a US Marshall. Mid-flight he begins to receive text messages in a secure line, demanding that he should get $150M deposited in a certain bank account, or else a passenger will be killed every twenty minutes until the demand is met. 

Because of Marks' gruff demeanor and rough ways, everyone thinks he is the hijacker! This inaccurate impression of Marks is likewise spreading beyond the confines of the plane in the news media. But Marks still had to keep his wits about him as he tries to figures out who among his co- passengers is the real culprit as the timer of a ticking time bomb is quickly running out.

Liam Neeson really has flawed hero characters like Bill Marks down pat. He has the dramatic skills and the action skills to pull this off creditably and believably. This guy is really on a roll. He is incredibly busy for an actor his age (he turns 62 this year), having six more films in the works for this year and the next, including "Taken 3".

Playing his gallery of suspects among the passengers are Julianne Moore (a lady who wanted to take the window seat beside Marks), Nate Parker (a military guy), Scoot McNairy (a school teacher), Corey Stoll (a NYC cop), Omar Metwally (a Muslim neuro-scientist). The two stewardesses were played by Michelle Dockery and surprisingly, Lupita Nyong'o (who just won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for "12 Years a Slave"). 

You may need to suspend disbelief and not think too hard about the events as they transpire. You are bound to find a plot hole or two if you look too hard. Some behaviors of the passengers, and even of Marks himself, felt very unrealistic, given the situation. Actually, hearing the entire motivation behind the whole complex plot verbalized may be a downer for some people. 

Overall though, the situation presented was very exciting as you try to figure out the perpetrator along with the protagonist. The cinematography within the enclosed space looked very good.  The special effects during the explosive climax looked very good.  Best of all, the pace of director Jaume Collet-Serra effectively built up suspense that kept us at the edge of our seats the whole time. That is the most important in a film like this, and "Non-Stop" achieves just that. 7/10.

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