et’s be honest for a moment. There are two kinds of people out there. There are people who hear about a movie starring Liam Neeson as an air marshal and get excited wanting to hear more and people who rolled their eyes at the very thought. We all know which group we fall into. If you rolled your eyes or are tired of watching Liam Neeson punch things in the same strangely successful career movies Nicolas Cage cannot seem to pull off, then you will not enjoy “Non-Stop.” If you got excited at the very thought then you’re going to love “Non-Stop.” I fell into the small category between both. Yes, Liam Neeson is cool as an action star even if I wish he would return to his “Schindler’s List” Days. However, did the premise of an air marshal who receives a text threatening to kill passengers unless they receive millions of dollars who finds he is being framed for the murders and hijacking not sound ridiculous to anyone? The good news is that for those skeptical, “Nonstop” isn’t nearly as bad as you may expect it to be, but it just isn’t as much fun as you’d hope.
What I loved about “Snakes on a Plane” is that the film acknowledged its absurd premise and was so over the top and ludicrous that it made for a really fun and entertaining time. This is how I imagined “Non-Stop” to be, but it takes itself way too seriously. Yet, it almost works. The film manages to be exactly what its title promises. It never stops and keeps you gripped the entire time. At points, it becomes hard to take seriously and it falls on clichés too often, but it really does manage to maintain an intense tone throughout. While there is action and fighting sporadically throughout, the film is more of a thriller with conversation, plot and mystery to keep your attention rather than the nonstop action its trailer promised. This works well and makes sense as it could have been too silly otherwise.
“Non-Stop” tries very hard to be a Hitchcockian thriller. While it certainly has an interesting twist when it’s all said and done, it’s not quite on that level. “Non-Stop” will keep you watching and generally entertained, but it is not the mind-blowing film it tries too hard to be. It features great performances from a strong supporting cast for some reason and tries so hard to convince the audience that it is more than another Liam Neeson February B-movie. Yet, there is no escaping that this is just another B-movie that luckily has Liam Neeson as nobody would watch it otherwise.
Neeson seems to be accepting of this action star type casting. He manages to do a good job at it and I can’t really complain, but it’s becoming a problem for my suspension of disbelief. If I already know that Liam Neeson is going to be an ex-cop or CIA assassin or something of the sort, then I already know he is going to win every fight and punch someone in the face when they give him a hard time. I already know that he is going to save the day even if he does so in a hard to believe finale with poor special effects. We all already know these things, but I guess it is still some fun to watch. This type casting even led studios and audiences to write off Neeson’s powerful performance in the outstanding film “The Grey” as another post-Oscar season cheap action film. What was one of the best films of its year went unnoticed due to all the type casting. “Non-Stop” is surely going to be a hit with the Neeson fans. Everyone else may have some fun, but we’ve already seen it before from Neeson.