2008’s Taken began a new and profitable chapter in the career of Liam Neeson as a B movie action king and that trend barrels forward with Non-Stop.
The formula is simple: write a fairly absurd and mostly conventional action plot setup and let Neeson growl his way through it. The original Taken took moviegoers by surprise by showing just how effective the star could be in these roles as a total badass. Non-Stop casts Neeson as a federal air marshal who is struggling with alcoholism and depression after the death of his young daughter to cancer. If this seems like a convenient plot device for easy sympathy to the lead character – well there you have it.
On a long flight to London, Neeson begins receiving text messages that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a bank account. The stakes get higher when it turns out that the account is registered to Neeson himself. Zoinks! This leads to everyone believing that he is the hijacker and he must prove them wrong by figuring out who the real culprit is.
Non-Stop features supporting work from Julianne Moore in a pretty thankless role as Neeson’s seatmate, “House of Cards” Corey Stull as an NYPD officer/passenger, and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o as a flight attendant. While these faces are recognizable, this is Neeson’s show all the way. He manages to allow Non-Stop to be a mostly entertaining diversion for most of its running time.
That said, as the plot rolls along, it becomes clear that no explanation of the events taking place are likely to make any real sense. And when the true culprits are revealed, the reasoning behind their actions are a bit… well, unbelievable.
Non-Stop doesn’t belong in the same solid B movie category as the first Taken. It’s more in line with that picture’s sequel and Unknown. If you don’t carry on your brain to the proceedings, there’s some fun to be had just watching Neeson do his thing. This type of nonsensical flick would actually be the perfect waste of time pic to view on a long flight… if it wasn’t about a plot to blow up a long flight.
**1/2 (out of four)