Liam Neeson, in a meme so aptly created in 2008 for “Taken,” is the man who trained Batman and Darth Vader, voiced Aslan in “The Chronicles of Narnia” films and plays Zeus. So six years after a late-career boost from someone foolishly kidnaps his daughter in “Taken,” Liam Neeson is back using his “special-set of skills” to save someone from the midst of an impossible situation.
“Non-Stop” takes place aboard a transatlantic flight to London carrying 150 souls on board. Neeson plays U.S. Air Marshall Bill Marks, an aging, alcoholic agent who no longer sees his job as a lifesaver. After boarding the plane, Marks begins receiving texts messages indicating someone will kill a passenger every 20 minutes, until the government pays $150 million to an account later discovered to be set up in Marks name. What happens here is a game of cat and mouse, as Marks attempts to find the hijacker, while believed to be the hijacker himself by the passengers, TSA and the world alike.
The film also stars Julianne Moore as Jen, a resilient passenger who helps Marks, Michelle Dockery as Nancy, a committed flight attendant who frequently works with Marks and keeps the British stiff upper lip as she assists Marks, and Lupita Nyong’o, another flight attendant wary of Marks but committed to doing her job.
Much in the tone of Neeson’s films of late, “Non-Stop” places Neeson in a situation that is nigh impossible, in a location that presents limits that only his “special set of skills” can overcome. This being said, why fix something that’s not broken. Neeson barks orders to passengers as he single-mindedly hunts down the killer. Audiences are drawn to his commanding presence on the screen and trust that this is another time he can’t fail.
“Non-Stop” is a nail-biter of a movie. From the second Marks receives his first text, the flow of action and events pulls the viewer along for a breathless ride at 40,000 feet, which can potentially reach zero feet in no time. For an hour and a half, we are wound tight by the countless red herrings and discoveries that make the situation even more dire. In the last half hour, the last act spirals madly in a conclusion that was never quite predictable.
Rated PG-13 for violence, language, sensuality and drug references. Its quick-paced, nothing but twists for Marks and the audience and a real seat-gripper in the last act. I’m giving “Non-Stop” an A, for the sheer fact my blood pressure was at unhealthy levels all the way to the end.