Leon van Nierop
1 minute read
11 Apr 2014
10:00 am

Movie Review: Action on autopilot in Non-Stop

Leon van Nierop

One of the most successful films of the early Seventies was Airport, a story about a bomb on a plane that featured a star-studded cast who were either suspects, guardian angels or perpetrators.

Liam Neeson plays an air marshal with a plane full of suspects. Picture: Myles Aronowitz.

Non-Stop repeats that premise with a younger cast, prettier faces, macho men and some original twists.

Liam Neeson is commanding as the lead. One word from him immediately shuts you up if you were munching on popcorn. Not that he has many lines. Rather, there are hoarse grumbles at appropriate times. The majority of the information needed comes from words on a cellphone screen.

A cynical air marshal (Neeson) is on a plane when he starts receiving threatening text messages. A passenger will die every 20 minutes unless he deposits a large amount of money into a bank account. There are many twists and turns along the way – and holding a group of characters prisoner in a plane flying over the middle of an ocean is the perfect mechanism for some tense and unusual story arcs. With the disappearance of the Malaysian aircraft a month ago, this film is suddenly more topical than the writers could ever have imagined.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra manages to hold attention and keep the tension high. The trick is to keep the audience guessing and to switch the suspicion from the most obvious suspects to the least obvious ones. Viewers are forced to remain one move ahead of the writers – and just when you think you have outsmarted the scribes, along comes a new surprise.

The film is utterly devoid of realism and the script has more potholes than Ballyclare Road in Bryanston, so don’t ask too many questions. The odds of something like this actually happening are extremely slim, although, after the Malaysian mystery, anything seems possible…

It is a pity to see actors like Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) wasting their talents on thankless roles.