Action Pose: Check
Movie Star: Check
Cool Movie Tagline: Check
We’re living in a time when Hollywood simply wants to hit home runs. Studios go all in on their franchise flicks. Now parallel this with the indie flicks that are often far superior in quality but simply can’t get the kind of audience that franchise films get. I’ve come to terms with this. I am however somewhat sad that studios aren’t making quality films that fit somewhere between those. Where is the new Die Hard? Where is Speed? These are flicks that cost 30-50 mil to make and were immensely popular. Anyone that’s a fan of baseball knows that you don’t win by hitting home runs. You win by getting on base consistently. I wish Hollywood would adopt this idea because I fear it’s heading into a place that’s not good for film. Why do I bring this up? Because a movie like Non-Stop is something that has the potential be the next Speed in terms of its size and talented cast. This size of film is something I think we need more of. So understand that going into this film I really wanted it to be good for a number of reasons.
For the 1st act it’s a fairly decent whodunnit on a PLANE. It’s actually an interesting premise that has Liam Neeson playing an Air Marshall who receives text messages from an unknown person on the plane. The unknown person threatens to kill someone on the plane every twenty minutes unless he receives 150 million dollars. Classic bad guy request. Oh, and he knows everything about Liam Neeson!!! Neeson plays Bill, but c’mon it’s Liam Neeson we’re watching and he’s awesome. Of course the lawmen/federal agents won’t help and he’s on his own. When we meet him he’s downing a glass of alcohol before he enters the plane. It’s a visual given to us for backstory, but it’s relevance to the story is worthless. There’s no payoff and you won’t even remember it by the end. That’s how this film functions.
There’s interesting things shown to us that provide some tension but the payoff is never fully delivered. It’s what I call an In-the-moment film. Sure it’s kinda fun when people start getting picked off and Liam Neeson is running back and forth on a plane, but then the film gets so convoluted and messy that it implodes on itself. It’s intriguing at points but when you think back it makes absolutely no sense logically. That’s where the film really lost me. The plot just becomes so ludicrous by the end that it’s hard to care or take seriously. It becomes a parody of itself by the end/. Hours later you’ll forget the film. I eventually just accepted the craziness and it was easier to get into. It does boast a talented cast (notably Julianne Moore) and just having them on screen elevates this from being a bad film to a a below average one. So while Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore delivering lines makes the film watchable, it’s also a huge waste of talent.
The film does deliver an interesting structure by providing some unexpected twists and turns that defy the audiences expectations but it’s only done for shock value and that’s the worst kind of twist. Most of the plot turns are there to keep us guessing and wondering. This is a basic whodunit strategy and it works for the first act. There is a sense of mystery that engages you. I truly did want to know what was actually going on and I even found myself having a little fun at certain points. The first two acts do a solid enough job of keeping the audiences attention, but once the third act reveal comes and we find out what was going on…..Well it’s wildly disappointing and revealing to why the film was made. In that moment it became clear that as they were writing this they just kept writing interesting turns until the point that they were backed into a corner and said “ehhh who cares”. Most characters are written 1 dimensionally and service the turns of the plot. Not even Liam Neeson’s character Bill is given any notable depth. Characters change motivations because the screenwriter called for it. It’s simply poor writing. The film tonally shifts from mystery to absolutely outrageous action in the third act. The laws of physics are broken and I was left shaking my head. For a movie that tries to pride itself on unpredictability, it’s extremely by the book.
It’s just a shame that Liam Neeson is not being utilized properly. In his new action career he’s made one good pure action film, Taken, and he’s the reason it worked. This is a film that fans of action or Liam Neeson might as well check out because he’s still a badass, but it’s just unfortunate that this film derails into a plane wreck towards the end. Haha. Im sorry. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a terrible film it’s just so blehhhhhh. Non-Stop is a decent enough whodunnit story for a while but loses steam eventually because it’s script comes back to haunt the third act. Keep trying Hollywood. It’ll work eventually.