Liam Neeson has taken some lessons from Miley Cyrus, apparently he can’t stop doing films that are derivatives of his popular Taken franchise. They should have just called this “Taken 3” and called it a day. At times it almost seemed like “Non-Stop” was going in that direction until the writers realized what they were doing and changed the plot mid-stream without any backtracking to explain the sudden shifts or dropped story threads.
It is a frustrating film to watch, at times I was really into it, but even at a little over 90 minutes it felt like there were long stretches of time before something exciting happens, this is due to John W. Richardson and Christopher Roach’s story structure that sets out timed events to occur every 20 minutes. It makes you want to constantly check your watch (and not in a good way). Seems a mysterious bad guy will kill someone on board the plane every 20 – 30 minutes unless Marks (Neeson) deposits $150 million dollars into his account.
As the story unfolds, Marks himself gets “gas-lit” and becomes the prime suspect as everyone on board questions his motives once his past history comes to light. Neeson’s Bill Marks feels like a character he has been playing a LOT lately and while he does play the paranoid, drunken, alienated family man with skills type of guy really well, it is about time that he does something else. There’s a certain predictability factor here.
The casting is unique and refreshing. I enjoy Julianne Moore in just about everything, I wish her role in this was more fully fleshed out and she was given more things to do. We don’t find out anything about her other than she’s a businesswoman who travels a lot. Corey Hawkins is Travis Mitchell a computer programmer, and Corey Stoll is a NYP Detective who tries to lead the passengers on a revolt against Marks. The cabin crew was headed up by “Law and Order’s” Linus Roache as the Captain and Michelle Dockery and “12 Years A Slave’s” Lupita Nyong’o as Flight Attendants.
The writers purposefully left every character vague to further the mystery of why this is happening and who is behind it, but by going this route they stripped the film of any sense of connection to the drama. The movie didn’t do a very good job of setting up possible suspects, other than the biggest red herring of them all – Marks.
With that said the action was tightly woven in and nicely done when you factor in the small spaces Director Jaume Collet-Serra had to deal with and the “how they did it” aspect of the story does work, I did find myself wondering how the killer was going to get rid of his victim without anyone noticing on a crowded plane, but the lack of characterization really impacts how I felt about any of this. Especially once the big reveal happens is nicely handled but the explanation of why was both confusing and groan inducing.