‘Non-Stop’ a nonstarter
A two-star movie review of the Liam Neeson vehicle “Non-Stop,” a by-the-book action thriller that never quite gets started.
Seattle Times movie critic
‘Non-Stop,’ with Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, from a screenplay by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach and Ryan Engle. 107 minutes. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references. Several theaters.
Primarily serving as a vehicle to demonstrate that Liam Neeson has now perfected his Harrison Ford Growl, “Non-Stop” is a by-the-numbers action flick that goes exactly where you think it’s going. Neeson plays Bill Marks, a U.S. air marshal who, on a flight from New York to London, begins to receive threatening text messages. The mysterious sender — is he on the plane? — demands $150 million transferred into an offshore account; otherwise he’ll kill a passenger every 20 minutes. What’s an air marshal to do? Slam a lot of people’s heads against the wall, apparently.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra (who previously directed Neeson in “Unknown”) gets points for assembling an interesting cast: Julianne Moore as an alluring first-class passenger with an ominous heart-surgery scar; Michelle Dockery as a hardworking flight attendant; Lupita Nyong’o (currently an Oscar nominee for “12 Years a Slave”) in a role so small you just know Collet-Serra’s kicking himself for what got left on the cutting-room floor. But he doesn’t give them much to do; Moore mostly smiles and acts mysterious; Dockery, forced to wear a vaguely Star Trek-y uniform, looks frightened and follows orders. Neeson, in “Taken” mode, does his action-hero best, but even he sometimes looks as if he’s wondering when the real script will arrive.
Around them, havoc is wreaked, guns are fired, fights break out, turbulence erupts, heads are banged — but the thing that really gets this crowd worked up is when the first-class passengers are told they have to sit in coach. (This is where it gets ugly, fast.) You wish Samuel L. Jackson and some snakes might show up; you wish Leslie Nielsen was on board; you wish Dockery would turn all Lady Mary and start ordering Neeson and everyone else around. None of these things happen, and what does happen is quickly forgotten. This generic action thriller needed more twist than growl.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org