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Non-Stop

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
February 28, 2014 12:05 AM
10 Comments
  • |
Julianne Moore-Liam Neeson-Non-Stop-1-680
Photo by Myles Aronowitz - Courtesy of Universal Studios

Formulaic though it may be, Non-Stop is wildly entertaining: an action thriller with a whodunit twist that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s not exactly seamless; you can practically picture the filmmakers plotting out their “story beats” one by one. Yet the finished product is slick and surprising at every turn, and Liam Neeson hits all the right notes in the leading role, as an air marshal with skeletons in his closet. Original? No. Effective? Yes.

With the exception of an airport prologue and a brief wrapup, the entire movie takes place aboard a trans-Atlantic flight. An apparent terrorist manages to hack into Neeson’s smartphone and begins making deadly threats. He or she seems to know everything that’s going on, not only on the aircraft but in Neeson’s private life. Who can it be, and what are they after? All I can say is that it’s unlikely anyone will figure out who’s responsible. Not only is there a surfeit of red herrings, but we aren’t given enough information to make an educated guess.

Corey Stoll-Non-Stop-680
Photo courtesy of 2014 Universal Studios

The screenplay, credited to John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle, might best be described as shameless: it leaves no stone unturned in establishing Neeson’s backstory, setting up human-interest sidebars, flipping our expectations and undoing stereotypes. With a first-rate supporting cast led by Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Anson Mount, Linus Roache, Omar Metwally, and Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o, every role is perfectly realized, from a sympathetic flight attendant to a hotheaded passenger.

The only thing that doesn’t work in Non-Stop is the “reveal” and ultimate explanation at the end. It’s wordy, clumsy, and unbelievable. But when a film has entertained you and held you in its grip so long, you may be willing to forgive this contrivance.

I would call this solid, mainstream Hollywood entertainment—except that it’s French-financed and directed by Barcelona-born Jaume Collet-Serra, with visual effects outsourced to Vancouver and India. Our country can lay claim to a number of the actors (including naturalized citizen Liam Neeson) and the always-commanding title design and visual treatment by Kyle Cooper. And, let’s face it, Hollywood movies invented the template that still holds up in multinational moviemaking such as this.

 

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  • Norm | February 28, 2014 4:16 PMReply

    I wonder if this will be an in-flight movie ? Can't wait.

  • Lee | February 28, 2014 1:08 PMReply

    At some point we're going to have to tell the younger generations "That action star once played an industrialist who rescued almost a thousand Jews from the gas chambers."

  • cadavra | February 28, 2014 4:33 PM

    But first you'll have to explain to them what gas chambers are.

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