Movie Review: Non-Stop
By Matt Patton
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Corey Stoll, Scoot McNairy
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Approximately a week before I saw Non-Stop, I had already decided that it was going to be another apathetic Liam Neeson actioner that the actor has been doing sporadically since the success of 2008’s Taken. However, walking out of the theater, I came to realize that my predisposition was a mistake. Non-Stop is an enjoyable, fast-paced thriller that doesn’t give you room to breathe until the credits roll.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, an air marshal riding along on a flight from New York to London. Halfway through the flight, Marks receives a text message from a terrorist threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless they are paid an exorbitant sum of money. The setup of Non-Stop’s plot is fairly run-of-the-mill, but its execution is what sets it apart from the dozens of cheap suspense flicks that come out every year. The twists here might be unanticipated by even the most experienced of moviegoers — so much so that the audience in my screening actually applauded during the film’s climax.
This is particularly surprising, considering that the screenplay was authored by a couple of guys who have “written” more than 100 episodes of Big Brother and Wipeout between the two of them. Yeah, you read that right. This comes from dudes who work predominantly in reality television.
Along for the ride are Julianne Moore, Corey Stoll (otherwise known as “that bald Congressman” from Netflix’s House of Cards), and Scoot McNairy as passengers aboard the jet. Best Supporting Actress Nominee Lupita Nyong’o is also included in the cast, but don’t get too excited, as she’s barely on screen and has maybe six or seven lines throughout the duration of the film. As a whole, the cast functions quite well: Each character feels like they have their own unique personality, and the “bad guy” isn’t made clear until the end of the film.
The directing by Collet-Serra (The Orphan, Unknown) is fantastic at making the viewer actually feel that they are confined to the close-quarters of the aircraft. Very tight handheld shots following Neeson’s character around the plane make up a fair portion of film, and this allows the audience to gradually unravel the deadly mystery along with him. Like House of Cards, the text messages of various characters are displayed graphically on the screen. This becomes advantageous as the story progresses and gives viewers information in an efficient and stylistic way.
The one thing that prevents Non-Stop from being a truly extraordinary film is its few glaring plot holes. Should you choose to ignore them and let the rest of the movie grab hold of you, all the better.
But if you’re one of those people who are a stickler for continuity (like me), then they’ll bother you long after you leave the movie theater. Otherwise, sit back, relax and let this fun thriller/mystery hybrid do its work.