Sometimes a writer goes for one twist too many. This is especially upsetting when it was going so well up until then. The Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Orphan) helmed Non-Stop is a step above your usual action thriller film until the very end and then it overstretches with a ridiculous ending that left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.
Never trying to oversell itself Non-Stop knows it is a popcorn film and is comfortable with that; it never tries to be more. That is part of its allure. The other highly likeable thing about the film is that it never dumbs things down and thinks it can get away with it because it is an action film. One hint to this is the quality of the cast. You get Liam Neeson (who seems to be in every action film made lately), Brit and Downton Abbey cast member Michelle Dockery and Oscar nominees Julianne Moore and Lupita Nyong’o. Pretty impressive cast for a people are going to die on an airplane film when you think about it.
Neeson plays a U.S. air marshal whose illegal smoking of a cigarette in the plane’s loo is rudely interrupted by a terrorist threat from someone on the plane via a text message on a flight from New York to London. The giant from Northern Ireland springs to action as he has to as the threat is that if the money in the amount of $150 million isn’t transferred to an off shore account a person on the flight will die every twenty minutes. Tension, au bout! Still the bodies begin to accumulate. I won’t go any further with the plot because I don’t want to ruin anything.
Neeson brings an extra couple of layers to a character he could have dialed in or done in his sleep. He has almost exclusively been doing action films since 2009 so he knows the routine but makes it better with his honest effort. You have no problem believing that he is being stalked like an animal in a metal cage. A hulk of a man you believe he can do the physical damage he wreaks in these films and enough of a talented actor to bring a glimmer of crazy to all his heroes.
The story isn’t anything original; that is not what is good about it. Director Collet-Serra juggles everything quite aptly. Keeps the tension up and even creates a couple of moments that will have many in the audience jumping a little. He also has made an atmosphere in which you suspect everyone. Each and every one of the 150 passengers on the flight. That is a lot a suspects! It takes a talented writer, cast and director to keep us interested in an action film that takes place aboard the narrow parameters of an airplane flying over an ocean.
What did cause me some irritation was the fact that with each nugget of information that was uncovered the story or reason for the terrorism became more muddled for me. Plus with every body it became more and more like a rip off of an Agatha Christie novel. And then there was none…
-Suspense at 40,000 Feet