With the mystery of Flight 370 soaring through the media, “Non-Stop” couldn’t come at a more tragically appropriate time. The terrible true-life tailwind doesn’t hurt a movie that is already burning up the box office.
The ever stalwart Liam Neeson (“Taken,” “Taken 2”) is a bit more troubled than usual in this sky-high action-thriller. As Bill Marks, he’s a U.S. Air Marshal with a past that makes him drink before boarding a New York-to-London flight. This brings to mind Denzel Washington’s brilliant alcoholic pilot in 2012’s “Flight.”
But, Neeson’s character has a more psychologically complex problem than turning a plane upside down. Marks has to discover who’s sending him threatening texts. The threat is to kill a passenger every 20 minutes until $150 million is wired to an offshore account. An added problem is that the account is in Marks’ name.
Is the troubled marshal, in fact, the terrorist?
Director Jaume Collet-Serra carefully shows us a number of passengers and crew members, who could be on the suspect list. The result is an airborne “Ten Little Indians” or “Murder on the Orient Express.” Tension builds in two ways: We don’t know who the villain is; and we don’t know whether the script will ultimately make sense.
Amazingly, screenwriters John W. Richardson, Chris Roach and Ryan Engle pull it off…though, at times, power-actor Neeson rams it through by sheer force of will.
“Non-Stop” lives up to its title. It’s never boring. And it will never be shown on an airplane.