Joel Silver may not be producing a lot of great action films lately, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying. Silver’s golden age is behind him after cranking out hit after hit, including classics like Predator, the first two Die Hards, all four of the Lethal Weapons, and the Matrix trilogy. It’s been awhile since he delved into his Dark Castle Entertainment brand—remaking the William Castle classics House on Haunted Hill, Thir13en Ghosts, and House of Wax. He just hasn’t been able to rekindle that old spark. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the best thing he’s done in the past 11 years and probably next month’s Veronica Mars movie. Now, Silver is rejoining forces with the director and star of Unknown—Juame Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson (or Neesons), respectively—to bring us an even more redonkulous film than their last with Non-Stop.
Bill Marks (Neeson) is an alcoholic air marshal about to board a flight from the U.S. to London. While he can’t keep from being suspicious of everyone in the boarding area, Bill has been having angry conversations with someone on the phone. On board, passenger Jen (Julianne Moore) switches seats with fellow passenger Zack (Nate Parker) so that she can have a window. After the flight takes off, Bill starts to get mysterious text messages on his secure network, informing him that if $150 million isn’t transferred into an off-shore account someone onboard will die every 20 minutes until the demands are met. Soon enough, Bill is up to his neck trying to save the passengers in a fight to the death where he soon becomes the prime suspect.
Director Collet-Serra keeps the suspense building even while the plot continues gets sillier by the minute. The first 15 minutes feel more like the opening to a Final Destination film than it does a suspense thriller. Screenwriters John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle manage to prove that the too many cooks cliché still stands as each scene becomes more outlandish than the last. Let alone the fact that they keep throwing more red herrings at the audience than any of the Scream films. Issues about national security are hammered over our heads at the last minute and the passengers find time to take a United 93 stance.
Once a bomb comes into play, all logic is finally thrown out the window and the fun level kicks into overdrive. There’s always room for more zero gravity shootouts. The film is way more fun than it has any right to be. Unfortunately, it winds up being too little, too late. Anyone who knows anything about the flight industry will be able to nitpick every plot hole. Non-Stop’s saving graces wind up being the film’s sense of humor and watching Neeson do what he does best: kicking ass and taking names. Hopefully we’re never saddled with a sequel which my friend, who saw the film with me, has already titled Non-Stop 2: Round Trip. Thankfully, Non-Stop is our last stop through the doldrums of the Hollywood wastelands that are January and February.
Photos courtesy Universal Pictures