Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) Troubled Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Rescued as Relativity Files for Bankruptcy (Updated) 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film 'The Witch' Won't Open Until 2016, But Its Sundance-Winning Director Has a New Film Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Showtime Chief on David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' Revival: "It's His Show" Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Discover the Brothers Quay, Identical Twin Animators Who Inspired Christopher Nolan Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Review: Liam Neeson Is Once Again the Cialis of Action Heroes in 'Non-Stop'

Photo of John Anderson By John Anderson | Thompson on Hollywood February 28, 2014 at 12:43PM

Think of Liam Neeson as the Cialis of action heroes. The Boomers needed one and there was Neeson, ready to step into the breach, lose the occasional daughter, thwart the occasional bad guy, overcome the insurmountable odds and now -- in “Non-Stop,” a.k.a “Taken 3” -- make transatlantic travel more of a nightmare than it already was.
1
Liam Neeson in 'Non-Stop'
Liam Neeson in 'Non-Stop'

Think of Liam Neeson as the Cialis of action heroes. The Boomers needed one and there was Neeson, ready to step into the breach, lose the occasional daughter, thwart the occasional bad guy, overcome the insurmountable odds and now -- in “Non-Stop,” a.k.a “Taken 3” -- make transatlantic travel more of a nightmare than it already was. Don’t expect to see this thriller from Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (of Neeson's  “Unknown”) on a plane anytime soon. Unless you’re flying Air Anxiety.

For all its high-tech accoutrements, “Non-Stop” is a locked-room mystery of the Agatha Christie stripe, except that the locked room is an “Aquatlantic” flight to London and the culprit is threatening by text message to kill someone on board every 20 minutes. Unless of course $150 million is deposited in a numbered account, blah blah blah. Those messages are being received by William Marks (Neeson), an alcoholic air marshal who hates flying, has family issues, may be paranoid and is being set up as the fall guy for an artfully executed scheme that can’t possibly be happening, but is happening nonetheless.

Like a lot of these things, i.e. high-concept caper movies, “Non-Stop” has a graceful takeoff, and then stumbles around trying to get off the plane; the implausibilities pile up faster than those little liquor bottles in business class. But Neeson is consistent, sympathetic and manly, even if at one point he has to make a speech to the assembled passengers, confessing every pitfall of his personal history as he tries to enlist their support for finding and stopping the airborne evildoers. You half expect them to conclude with the Serenity Prayer.

The plotline is a series of surprises and there’s little to be gained by explaining them, but Collet-Serra goes above and beyond in getting us into the story, including the security-line/boarding sequence in which the passengers are profiling each other -- and so are we: The one obviously Muslim flier gets the once over from everyone, even William, and while viewers are expected to look askance at all this, they’ll be questioning their own reactions, too.  Julianne Moore, as William’s seatmate-cum-ally Jen, is a refreshing counterweight to Neesonian solemnity and while “Downton Abbey’s” Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years a Slave” don’t do a lot (they’re flight attendants, after all) they’re endlessly polite, which just goes to show what a fantasy “Non-Stop” is.

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Liam Neeson


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.