Monday, 3 March 2014

Movie Review: Non-Stop

Depending on your appreciation of Liam Nesson’s recent body of work, ‘Non-Stop’ may either turn out to be a movie you enjoy quite a bit, or one you struggle to connect with. When it comes down to it, ‘Non-Stop’ is a low-action, high-tension thriller dragged out of mediocrity by a strong Liam Neeson performance supported by some very talented actors. 

United States Air Marshal William “Bill” Marks (Liam Neeson) finds himself caught in a game of cat and mouse while on-board an aircraft when he is contacted by an unidentified passenger through the secure Marshal network. Marks’ mysterious correspondent informs him that he wants 150 million dollars deposited into a specific bank account and that for every 20 minutes Marks fails to secure this, a passenger on-board the flight will die. Bill Marks is given the difficult task of discovering the true identity of his extorter whilst racing against the clock to secure the safety of the passengers he is there to protect.

Bill Marks struggles to find the threat onboard his aircraft before another passenger is killed.

Liam Neeson gives an authentically desperate performance as his character becomes increasingly unhinged throughout the course of his tumultuous flight. Although I do enjoy most of the films Neeson has made in this “action hero” period of his career I couldn’t help but pine for him to return to more credible dramatic roles when watching this film, especially given the fact that here I see definite shades of the incredible range he has as an actor.

‘Non-Stop’ nails what a lot of thrillers mess up: sustaining the interest of its audience. While it certainly isn’t afraid to rely on the well known tropes of the whodunit genre, the film manages to execute them in a fresher way than moviegoers often see, in particular the way it handled the setup of each potential suspect in the story was very well balanced so as to give each an air of mystery yet never singling a particular character out as sketchy. The biggest let-down of the film came when the motivation behind the villain’s actions were finally revealed, the reasoning given was utterly bogus and any screenwriter worth his salt could have come up with a more plausible excuse to have someone undertake such an act of terror.

There was a point in ‘Non-Stop’ where there was an opportunity to go somewhere totally new and interesting with the story, I was shocked to find this unexpected option be presented in what is essentially a by-the-numbers story. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that the opportunity was not taken. Nevertheless the film carried on and thanks to its impressive direction and consistent pace it delivered on the story it wanted to tell, even if that was the more generic choice.

I found the clear highlight of 'Non-Stop' to be Liam Neeson's performance of the troubled U.S. Marshal Bill Marks.

I did sincerely enjoy my time with ‘Non-Stop’; it is a more than serviceable thriller with some great tension. I cannot however, see myself returning to watch it again at any point in the future. Some films are just like that though, once we’ve seen what they have to offer the first time we really don’t feel compelled to return to them. This doesn’t mean that ‘Non-Stop’ is lacking quality however because it undeniably does a lot of things right, it just doesn’t excel at any of them.

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