“I’m not hijacking this plane, I’m trying to save it!”
What happens when you take one part current affairs induced anxiety, a whole lot of Liam “if you don’t let my daughter go, I will find you and kill you” Neeson, and a healthy smattering of implausibility? You get Non-Stop, a pulpy schlock-fest that induces quiet giggling for most of its (thankfully short) runtime, before abandoning any sense of taking itself seriously in the last 15 minutes and becomes a laugh-out-loud farce of b-grade action movie making.
In what winds up being a tangled mess of motivations, alliances, double crossing and a whole lot of 3D text messaging there lies the bare bones of a coherent plot, in which a depressed, alcoholic air marshal (Flight, anyone?) is just ‘on the job’ for another day when he begins to get taunting messages that even mention his daughter (!), leading to someone on the plane dying every 20 minutes (guess how!) and countless angry phone conversations, sneaky drinking in the toilet as everything is reaching crisis point, and weather that is apparently controlled by hijackers.
There isn’t much to say about Non-Stop apart from: it’s exactly what one would expect, how much of a train wreck it is, and by god, what an entertaining one at that. For the first half-hour, everything out of a characters mouth is just downright cringeworthy. Plot point are as quickly abandoned as they are appear, characters introduced then cast aside like props, plodding through a whole lot of prolonged set up that is evident it’s solely for a brief reappearance at the end, to ‘give the story more weight’.
Thanks to its runtime, Non-Stop is never a boring movie per se, as its clunky dialogue, plot that has been put through a meat mincer, and the increasingly insane Liam Neeson offer plenty of laughs throughout. These quiet snickers quickly becomes belly-aching, roaring laughs in the conclusion, where a highly implausible disaster film suddenly stops taking itself seriously at all and becomes a Mythbusters episode as Neeson engages in a shootout with sudden enemies that have been jaded by 9/11, before helping Julianne Moore pull a child back inside whose chair is about to blow out of the plane, despite the fact it’s travelling at a million miles a hour, complete with a slow motion grab at a gun, as he is obviously flying at zero gravity (somehow…). At this point, after a whole lot of pointless, confusing, hilarious ‘plot devices’, the all out farce of the last act is rounded out with a character asking another one on a date.
This ending, which is one of a possible two (the other involving a character death which would make the audience sad because THEY WERE TRYING TO LIVE THEIR LIFE TO THE FULLEST) is indicative of the rest of the 90 minutes – a choppy, predictable, uneven, half-baked, wannabe action movie that is half near-offensive moments and half comedy (probably not intentionally…). Non-Stop further cements that if you want someone to star in your b-grade action film, Liam Taken Neeson is your man.
Non-Stop receives a wide release from today (February 27).
M (violence and infrequent coarse language), 106 mins.