Judge David Johnson stopped.
The hijacking was just the beginning.
Since he stormed the action world with Taken, Liam Neeson has pivoted nicely into a reliable cinematic badass. With Non-Stop he takes his gruff demeanor and devastating jawline to the friendly skies.
Facts of the Case
Neeson is Bill Marks, an Air Marshal cooling his heels on a trans-Atlantic flight. The plane ride is uneventful: he makes small talk with the redhead (Julianne Moore, Boogie Nights) next to him, and pops anti-anxiety meds like Junior Mints. Then he gets a disturbing text: someone on board is threatening to kill one passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is paid immediately.
As Marks investigates, he comes to the frightening realization that he has no surefire allies on the plane. Everyone is a suspect and the bad guys are more than willing to act on their ultimatums.
The good news: Liam Neeson still retains his badass status. The bad news: He does so in spite of a deeply silly movie. And look, anyone who knows how I roll with action movies, understands my threshold for silliness is vast. Give me some nifty mayhem and I'm willing to look past most ridiculous crap…Battleship aside.
But, fella, Non-Stop is a stretch.
It's not necessarily the set-up. Though I have a hard time buying it's as tough to track down one dickhead with a cell-phone on an airplane as the film portends, especially if you have the full complement on Federal resources at your disposal, I was willing to move past it and settle in for some airborne excitement. It's a contrived gimmick, but the suspense generated is legit and I was ultimately able to move past the weirdness for what I was banking on being a satisfying payoff.
Alas, that's when it all went upside down. I won't go into spoilers, but the motivations behind the perpetrators' plot are some of the dopiest I can recall. It immediately took me out of the fragile cocoon of disbelief I had constructed and made me long for more coherent characterization, like something you'd find in Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style. It was enough to short-circuit any enjoyment I had of the film and retroactively diminish the previous good tidings I had up to that point. Frustrating.
However, I just had a delicious sandwich with roast beef, salami, and horseradish dressing, so my mood is light and I don't want to end this review on a harsh note. I may not be able to offer my recommendation, but perhaps you won't react as negatively as I did to the reveal. If so, rest assured, Non-Stop delivers sustained suspense from the get-go. Not sustained action mind you. Despite the inference from its title, the film isn't a roller-coast ride of jump-kicks and awesomeness. The thrills come from the hunt and the tension, with a handful of bodacious Neeson-powered fisticuffs peppered in to keep cavemen like me engaged.
Universal offers up a nice chunk of Blu-ray to chew on. The 2.40:1/1080p (MPEG-4 AVC) transfer looks great, highly detailed and ultra-clear. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, when called upon to let loose the fury, pounds. Bonus features are only a pair of disposable featurettes ("Non-Stop Action" and "Suspense at 40,000 Feet"), and digital copies for your portable device.
A ridiculous premise gives way to some solid suspense gives way to utter inanity. And I'm still not entirely sure of the point of Julianne Moore's character.
Guilty of getting my hopes up then blowing them out of the airlock.
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