Stop me if you've heard this one before. Liam Neeson is a badass. He's a potential hero, but also very troubled. There's a plane full of people, with one of them being a nasty criminal type trying to grab a LOT of money. And he/she is not only trying to commit a major crime, he's also hoping to frame our hero for the job.
Yes, Non-Stop is a . . . . . non-stop selection of cliches and familiar action thriller movie moments. Which doesn't make it any less fun. A large part of the enjoyability is down to Neeson, who has been taking on this kind of role so often in recent years that he may well end up in The Expendables 10, whenever that comes along.
Things don't start off too well though. If you're not rolling your eyes when you watch Neeson use a toothbrush to stir his breakfast whiskey then you'll have a second chance to do so when he passes by a roster of usual suspects on his way to boarding his flight. There's also Julianne Moore, playing someone desperate to sit in a window seat. Everything is easily forgiven, however, as soon as Neeson gets some text messages telling him that he needs to get $150M in to a specific account or someone is going to die in 20 minutes. That starts a race against the clock, with Neeson growing increasingly desperate, and perhaps out of control, as he determines to catch his quarry.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (the man responsible for a couple of fun horror movies in the past decade or so - namely Orphan and House Of Wax), and written by Christopher Roach, John W. Richardson and Ryan Engle, Non-Stop is a film that probably shouldn't work. The fact that it does, and does so well, is testament to the zippy script and the fact that Collet-Serra directs with no small amount of style and inventiveness.
Neeson is as Neeson as ever. He's a brand by this point, but a bloody good one. If you're going to invest in a Nesson then treat yourself to the original and best. Acccept no substitute. Moore does well with a role that could have easily been completely thankless, and both Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o do well as two air stewardesses. The former has more to do, but it's nice to just see Nyong'o in a situation not half as harrowing as her most famous role to date. Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Omar Metwally and Quinn McColgan do a decent job with their roles, despite often being asked to act nervy, or aggressive, or whatever suits the mood of the crowd as they react to Neeson's actions.
This is not a film that will blow your mind, or change the face of cinema. It doesn't have to. Few films do. This simply takes some pleasing ingredients and throws them together to make something that stands up as a piece of superior blockbuster entertainment. Translation = it's not that hard to build a decent movie around Liam Neeson kicking ass.