REVIEW: NON-STOP (2014)

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“I hate flying. The lines. The Crowds. The delays…” Bill Marks

“I always kinda liked it. Six hours. One seat. Nobody can get to you.” Jen Summers

Synopsis

Bill Marks an alcoholic flight Marshall is threatened on board a flight and is demanded to deposit $150 million into a bank account or someone will die on the plane every 20 minutes.

Review

In the style of the classic Hitchcock thrillers comes Non-Stop a tense and gripping thrill-ride with a solid performance from its star Liam Neeson. It is interesting that in 2014 our most popular box office action star is the great Liam Neeson. Action films are in somewhat of a rut at the moment with Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone failing at comebacks with recent flops such as Sabotage (2014) and Escape Plan (2013). Younger action heroes are more popular on the direct to video market such as Scott Adkins (check out Undisputed II & III (2006 & 2010) or Ninja (2013) for a look at this remarkable action hero). Jason Statham who has developed a strong fanbase in the last decade, has also fallen on hard times with recent flops such as Homefront (2013) and Parker (2012). With recent hits such as Taken 1 & 2 (2008 & 2012), The Grey (2011) and Batman Begins (2005), Neeson has established himself as the most profitable action star today. In the 90s Neeson was a respectable actor known for his dramas such as Schindler’s List (1993) and Rob Roy (1995) however he always had a strong screen presence and now in his 60s he brings a gravitas to his performances that Stallone and Schwarznegger could only dream of. (Side note; he was also in the 1990 b-movie action film Darkman as the hero). Taken was a hit because he changed people’s perception of him. He brought his Schindler’s List credibility to a B-movie action flick. A formulaic action adventure dealing with the kidnap of his daughter and some post-James Bond espionage. The film was a hit, with quotable dialogue and great action set pieces, Neeson delivered what other action stars couldn’t, entertainment for men and women. That’s right, women love him, with his old fox looks and his gruff delivery, he’s an old bad boy. He’s also an excellent actor and he can sell the formulaic action conventions to everybody. He doesn’t need to rely on martial arts skills (Jet Li, Jason Statham) or nostalgia (Stallone, Schwarznegger) he brings a presence and credibility to everything he does. Welcome to the new action hero, smart, gruff and old weary.

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Non-Stop, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, 2011), is the perfect vehicle for Neeson in his career reconnaissance, B-movie storyline and a troubled protagonist for Neeson to flex his acting muscles. The film plays out like a Hitchcock thriller with the ticking clock becoming the main threat in the film. It does fall to many conventions with the standard side characters, love interest, helpful flight attendant, angry bosses, foreign characters who may or may not be threats. However its Neeson who keeps us captivated as he plays a cat and mouse game with an unknown killer taking out passengers every 20 minutes. What I enjoyed was that it played on genre conventions such as the possibility that the plot is all in the protagonist’s head. The killer wants him to believe that and sets up a bank account in his name so he may even believe it. The plot keeps up with its fast pace for the majority of the film and rarely gets boring. Unfortunately it all builds up to an unsatisfying climax that can’t put together all the plot points the film brought up throughout.

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Rating: 3 Stars