Thursday, 31 July 2014

Non-Stop

Star of Non-Stop, Liam Neeson, has had a sort of career re-invention of late. After starring in highly lauded masterpieces such as Schindler's List and Michael Collins in the 90’s, the 2000’s saw him find a new niche in the form of action thrillers. The first real one being Taken, which launched Neeson into films like The A-Team, Unknown and now Non-Stop, perhaps the best, and most original, of the bunch.


The film follows Air Marshall Bill Marks (Neeson) on a routine flight that is put in peril by a mysterious person who keeps texting our hero with various threats. It is soon revealed that this mysterious man or woman is not only on the same plane as Bill but has also made it appear that Bill is responsible for the crimes. Bill has to figure out who the threat is before it’s too late. As with similar films the supporting cast is fleshed out with interesting characters such as the enigmatic Jen (Julianne Moore), a slightly racist cop from the NYPD (Corey Stoll), a Middle Eastern doctor (Omar Metwally), Bill’s suspicious Air Marshall colleague Jack (Anson Mount), a cowardly school teacher (Scoot McNairy) and that’s just to name a few. Because of these brilliantly acted and diverse side characters the mystery at the heart of the film is brilliant and full of suspense and the reveal at the end did take me by surprise, unlike a lot of other Hollywood films. The twist might make certain audience members roll their eyes but by this point in the movie I was completely swept up and didn’t care. The films focus bounces around numerous plot points, from multiple murders to cocaine trafficking to Air Marshall Bill’s dark past, so by the time of the reveal you are completely swept up in the exciting world that the film has created.


Watching the trailer might make the film seem more action packed than it actually is. While the film isn’t a straight up action movie, it’s all the better for it. The slow pace aids the mystery and the acting and direction is top notch; better than the usual level found in Hollywood thrillers. Director Jaume Collet-Serra shows more flair than he did in previous Liam Neeson vehicle Unknown, and uses techniques such as long shots to make Non-Stop a surprisingly classy affair and due to this the film becomes much more than your average thriller. The actors also really bring their A game, with Neeson playing much more than the bad-ass he has become known for. While we are meant to root for his character we don’t initially warm to him. He’s a depressed alcoholic and just an all-round grumpy old man. This is until we learn about his slightly generic depressing back-story. But despite being the back story of hundreds of depressed protagonists, it does its job and makes us feel sorry for him, mainly thanks to Neeson’s convincing acting which really helps the audience connect with the character. Julianne Moore’s character Jen is also convincingly acted, perfectly balancing a sweet and funny love interest while also remaining a real suspect in the greater mystery of the film.


If you are a fan of Liam Neeson’s action career than there is enough nose breaking and throat punching to get you through the film, but that’s not all the film has to offer. Non-Stop is a great thriller with a solid mystery at the centre which delivers a (mostly) satisfying pay off. All of the actors give solid performances and the direction is better than it has any right to be. If you’re in the mood for something fun and slightly cleverer than the usual Hollywood fare then Non-Stop is a gripping, imaginative, airborne thriller.

Non-Stop gets a solid 4/5.

[★★★★☆]

Tom Bumby


Non-Stop at CeX


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