Non-Stop Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

It was another underwhelming week for movies. There was only a generic looking thriller (Non-Stop) or a rehashed literal interpretation of the bible (Son of God) to choose from. And while I did promise to see more bad movies this year, I have to draw the line at the smirking Jesus movie. So I ended up at yet another Liam Neeson throat-chopping extravaganza.

It’s up to a lone air marshal to stop a hijacker who has threatened to kill someone every 20 minutes on a transatlantic flight.

Once again it was Liam Neeson vs the World, but because it was a contained space thriller with a (relatively) limited cast, there was a lot more texting than throat chopping. Which is a shame, because the only reason to go to these movies is to watch a (somehow still hot) Liam Neeson beat the snot out of bad guys.

Our first scene with air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) seems to come straight out of the down-on-his-luck law enforcement hero introduction textbook. He’s drinking before work, chain smoking, stroking an old picture of his daughter, and fondling a relic of hers. He will later use said relic calm a little girl (Quinn McColgan) and show everybody what a great guy he is despite the fact that he’s half drunk and responsible for 150 people.

Liam Neeson and Michelle Dockery from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

This is your boss. You’re fired. Also: stop talking to little girls, perv.

Half-drunk Bill also happens to be afraid of flying, but only take-offs, or else the writers would have to work that into the script after they were done introducing Bill’s kind but mysterious seat mate Jen (Julianne Moore). Script needs trumping story and/or character needs is a common theme in Non-Stop.

Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

Hey, can you put in there that I won’t answer simple personal questions
because you need to suspect me later?

For example, the flight is a British Airways stand-in to London, because there can’t be anyplace nearby to divert when the threats start arriving via text message. But this raises the question: do they put US air marshals on British flights that are going to Britain? A quick Google search doesn’t yield a concrete answer, so I guess the film can be given the benefit of the doubt here.

Scoot McNairy and Liam Neeson from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

What do you mean, I have no authority? Can’t you see I’m in the middle of threatening people!

The movie’s plot hinges on Marshal Bill being able to get text messages in flight. Apparently the plane has its own network, which is supposedly secure because Marshal Bill gets pissed when he finds another person on it. However, it can’t be all that secure, as the passengers have to post YouTube videos, place calls, and surf the web in order to isolate Bill from the TSA by making it look like Bill’s the one doing the hijacking.

Liam Neeson from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

It’s Moriarty, obviously, because you stole this trick from Sherlock.

And then there are the murders. The hijacker threatens to kill someone every 20 minutes unless he/she/they/it gets 150 million dollars. This raises the excellent question of how someone could murder people in an enclosed space and get away with it. Turns out that they can’t, not plausibly anyway. The string of murders seems to rely heavily on pre-existing allergies and Bill doing a lot of the heavy lifting. It’s all very confusing if you think about it, so I tried not to.

Linus Roache from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

Okay, so if he weighs the same as a duck… he’s made of wood… and therefore: a hijacker!

In fact, I didn’t even figure out which of the many people Bill menaced was actually the bad guy before of the reveal, mostly because I didn’t care enough to think that far ahead. I wasn’t invested in the story at all. The main characters were so generic they might as well have been made of cardboard and the passengers were annoying in that ‘we think we know better than the hero’ sort of way. So I just sat there like a lump and watched it unfold in front of me.

Passengers plotting a coup from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

Hey you guys, the movie would be over too early if the hero told us
what’s going on, so let’s labor under a misapprehension!

For the most part, watching Non-Stop is like eating processed white bread. There’s nothing there. There were two parts I liked, though. The first one was Liam Neeson having a secret fistfight in an airplane bathroom, which looked like two grown men playing slapsies. The second was their method of dealing with the bomb on the plane, which did not involve cutting colored wires with less than a second left on a timer like every other movie ever made.

Aqua Atlantic plane from the Universal Pictures film Non-Stop

Wrong wire, dipsh**.

I’m not sure whether to recommend Non-Stop to you. It’s not as fun as Taken, as action-packed as Turbulence or as twisty as Flight Plan. But there must be something about it that appeals to people, because the theater was packed with happy film-goers. Then again, there are a lot of people who like processed white bread, too. So if you like Wonderbread, go see Non-Stop, I guess.

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