From the Good Cop / Bad Cop character (which I found very much amusing) in the hyperactive and humorous The Lego Movie to now his leading man air marshal role in Non-Stop, 2014 is the year Liam Neeson has become a self-parody shtick of the ass kicking tough guy. I enjoyed it a lot during Taken, but it is growing thin rather quickly. Someone cast him in the next Expendables movie quickly because the gimmick/career makeover is running out of energy. (Maybe that would make it official.) Despite the engaging first act, Non-Stop flies toward a destination unknown in regards to advancing a believable plot. Liam Neeson should plan a trip to another film genre ASAP.
Non-Stop Synopsis: Global action star Liam Neeson stars in NON-STOP, a suspense thriller played out at 40,000 feet in the air. During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the government to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes. NON-STOP, which reunites Neeson with UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver, co-stars Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore and will be released by Universal Pictures on February 28, 2014. The StudioCanal production is also produced by Andrew Rona and Steve Richards. (C) Universal
Director Jaume Collet-Serra re-teams with Mr. Neeson as a follow up to a previous collaboration Unknown which is an equally forgettable, but just as confusing adult appealing thriller as Non-Stop. There are as many Red Herrings on this plane ride than turbulent bumps as false distractions play as phony tension. The casting choices in this movie confused me as much as the plot twists. Julianne Moore (who surprisingly doesn’t cry in this movie), Nate Parker (Arbitrage), and the guy from House of Cards didn’t make sense and hindered the movie. As a flight attendant in the background, the talented Lupita Nyong’o (Oscar nominated for 12 Years A Slave) keeps quiet as if her future career has been high-jacked aboard this plane. The filmmakers just couldn’t cast her as the leading flight attendant role a la Halle Berry in Executive Decision (which is what I was anticipating).
I really wanted to have fun with Non Stop and I did, but the lack of logic (possibly an understatement) let me down and prevented the fun from lasting. The awful moments came mostly in the last fifteen minutes of the action thriller (from the revealed motivation of the villain to the various laws of physics being broken). I won’t ruin basic or specific details, but I think a movie needs to have a consistent tone. Either it’s a silly action picture or a serious one. Non-Stop wanted to be both. Switching gears to an off-the-rails tone in the middle of the third act was its fatal flaw.
Liam Neeson, who has a wide range of talent, is on the verge of solely making money being a one trick pony (similar to Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., or Zach Galifianakis). Mr. Neeson has been “Taken” with his recent movies selections and I want the actor from Schindler’s List, Michael Collins, Rob Roy, and the 1990’s non-musical version of Les Miserables back from being held hostage. I demand audiences collect a ransom for his “talented character actor shtick” to be released from captivity.