In Liam Neeson’s latest venture as Action Hero, we are presented with Non-Stop. Twisting the whodunit motif with a slew of redherrings, it’s a thrill ride that builds to a fever pitch with delightful treats along the way. Hardly an intellectually stimulating affair, Non-Stop never masquerades as a brilliant psychological thriller. Instead, it earnestly offers high-altitude thrills and melodrama that really delivers.
Bill Marks (Neeson) hates flying. Odd, considering he’s a US Federal Air Marshal. Once his transatlantic flight to London is in the air, the messages start pouring in. Threats from an unknown source on a secure network. The perpetrator threatens to kill one person on board every 20 minutes until 150 million dollars is transferred into an offshore bank account. As Bill calls their bluff, the death toll starts to climb. Gradually, Bill himself is marked as the terrorist supposedly hijacking the plane. He has to prove his innocence and save the day, all while cruising at 30,000 feet.
Neeson’s Bill Marks is a broken man – a trend that seems to be following his heroes from role to role. A struggling alcoholic and bereaved father, he’s an easy target, and a perfect scapegoat. He spends the film defending himself against criminal charges and moral accusations in equal measure. The film serves as a leaden story of redemption – essentially we’re watching Bill save his daughter and, by osmosis, himself.
The mood is lightened with well-timed humour, and borderline groan-inducing plot twists. Though Non-stop dabbles in melodrama, it manages to deftly avoid the heavy-handed hammfest it could have become. It teeters just on the edge of intolerable, allowing you to take the Leap of Faith and submit completely to the material.
It deftly balances high-octane action with cheesy dialogue, providing audiences with a deliberately well-crafted brainless action thriller that’s certainly no dud. This is Con Air meets Snakes on a Plane. Content so delightfully unbelievable you have no choice but to submit to it.
In this new age of Neeson, he’s taken to his badass action alter ego like a fish to water. Initially shocking audiences with a drastic career overhaul at 56 years old, Taken in 2008 established a shift he’s now settling into with a natural flair. Non-Stop is no different, accentuating his strengths as a John McClane-type hero, and placing him front and center as a man not to be toyed with. Non-stop knows what it is – a shootout at 30,000 feet. It wears its hat proudly, and delivers in spades.