Fasten your seatbelts, you're in for an action-packed ride
Nothing says, "I do not trust my fellow airline travellers" quite like a suspicious looking person on your flight, and nothing riles up your ability to partake in some pretty shameful profiling like a Hollywood movie about mid-air terrorism.
Just when you thought it was safe to fly … well, technically it still is, but this exciting, action-packed "terror in the skies" movie may just have you waiting a little while longer before you book that flight.
Liam Neeson (Taken series, Shindler's List) stars as US Air Marshall Bill Marks in Non-Stop (rated M), as a man trying to save the passengers aboard his flight, after receiving mysterious text messages that places them all in danger. It also stars Julianne Moore as Bill's love interest (ish) Jen, and Michelle Dockery (of Downton Abbey fame) and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) as flight attendants Nancy and Gwen.
The film begins with Bill alone in an airport car park. Everything tells us he's this broken man, looking for some sort of redemption, but unable to find it by glaring helplessly into his coffee cup (which is filled with alcohol, just so you get the point that he really is a bit of a damaged dude). He hasn't seen the brightest of days lately, and that's OK, coz this is Liam Neeson and he's essentially a good guy, and by god are we going to follow him to the very end of this adventure.
The clues to Bill's past are revealed throughout the film, which is interesting to see played out. The start of the film also draws heavily on the idea of suspicion and profiling (racial profiling, even), particularly in post-9/11 airline travel. Bill, as a trained marshall, notices and sees everyone. We're at the mercy of whatever Bill sees, of what the camera catches, and I'm sure it's intentional. It's a nice commentary, I guess, in the way we view the world now.
Although not essential to the plot of the film, it was also really interesting that the film captured the stress and frustration of just boarding the flight and airline travel in general. It's the worst behaviour of humanity (OK, not quite, but it's pretty bad, in first world terms), the stress of boarding a flight. Adding this into the film helped the following scenes tell their parts of the story.
Things start to go awry when Bill starts getting anonymous text messages from what could be another passenger. The messages are dangerous and Bill is naturally worried, but ready to save the day. The villain basically has Bill at ransom – transfer $150 million into a nominated account or someone will die until he gets his way.
And you thought getting a glass of water on an international flight was hard.
From here, you are basically taken along for a pretty entertaining, if not implausible, ride. But you need to exercise some suspension of belief, or you'll miss out on the action and fun. Who has the gall to do something like that? Who cares. What's with the Doctor Who Logic of Smartphone Programming (i.e. uttering a string of jargon that sounds somewhat believable)? Who cares. What's with Jen, and hasn't Julianne Moore aged so well? Who cares, who cares, who cares! This film has everything needed to help the popcorn go down: close body grappling, a lone travelling child and LIAM NEESON, for Pete's sake, so buckle up, check your brain at the door and just enjoy it.
Full of action, a lot of pretty good suspenseful scenes and a couple of light-hearted moments thrown in for good measure, Non-Stop works as a good film to while away a couple of hours.
As movies working on the formula of enclosed spaces drama high stress potential loss of life goes, this is no Speed, but it's certainly still a whole lot of fun. There were a few titters in the audience during some scenes, but nothing that really stops you from getting into the film. The last Hollywood film featuring unsafe aviation was probably Denzel Washington's 2012 Oscar-nominated performance in Flight, and while that film took a lot, emotionally, out of you, Non-Stop is a fun flight, full of twists and action and hold-your-breath suspense. Enjoy.