Last night I went to see NON-STOP (you have to read it in all caps because it is HIGH OCTANE stuff). It was actually pretty good, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
If you’re not familiar with the premise, Liam Neeson is an air marshal who likes a bit of the drink and has lots of personal baggage of the emotional kind, the sort that you can’t just stow away in the overhead locker. Someone knows. When Liam Neeson boards his next flight, someone takes advantage. Now Liam Neeson has to stop them before a passenger dies, every twenty minutes until the ransom demand (150 million dollars) is paid.
I love action movies. Bang bang, a few laughs, a riveting build up to a satisfactory conclusion usually featuring explosions and cars flying through the air – it’s not difficult to sell to me. The plot doesn’t have to be fantastic but it does need to be somewhat realistic.
NON-STOP has this in the first two acts, in spades, even. Liam Neeson has this kind of character down pat – a flawed, troubled human who has a heart of gold and seeks redemption in his current situation. It’s really well set up; the writers and director are careful to only dole out bits and pieces so that you’re not smacked with exposition in the first ten minutes. The flight through NON-STOP is enjoyable even if you don’t sit back and relax because the tension is so edge-of-your-seat.
However, the third act falls apart completely. It is as if the writers thought, “WHAT IF WE GET LIAM NEESON IN THIS MOVIE AND, LIKE, HE HAS A GUN, AND HAS TO STOP SOMEONE FROM DYING EVERY TWENTY MINUTES AND ZOMG EXPLOSIONS?!?!” and everyone else thought that was an amazing idea (well, it is) and so they wrote it and then they thought, “Oh, balls, we actually need a denouement,” and their idea was to make the entire audience suspend their disbelief at an altitude higher than what any commercial airline flies at over the Atlantic.
Did. Not. Work.
It is a bit disappointing really because the movie was very, very good up until that point. The first and second acts build up suspense and suspicion and then peel the layers back one by one like a mystery advent calendar that has only one goodie in the entire 31 days. Having the bad guy’s motive finally uncovered in such a dumbfounding and anti-climactic way was almost like an ice bath tipped over your senses.
That was the only flaw in an otherwise solid movie. The action was, as I said before, HIGH OCTANE and there is this one scene in particular that I really want Mythbusters to have a crack at next season. The cast was great, too, a lot of recognisable faces and of course Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery. Dockery plays Nancy, an awesome flight attendant and she is so amazing. Every time she came on-screen I squealed with happiness. If I had a point of contention with the cast it’s that they might have wasted such awesome actors on a movie that is really Liam Neeson’s own. BUT – is that really a thing? Either way, I’m not complaining.
Could have done with a bit more Nancy, though.
NON-STOP: Well worth the price of admission (I got in for $9 because it was Movie of the Week) but the careful threading and set-up comes undone by a somewhat silly motive.
FOUR out of FIVE Silent LOLs