Film Review: Non-Stop (USA, 2014)

Non-Stop-Liam-Neeson

When I think about movies like Non-Stop, I like to imagine a bunch of guys in suits sitting around a table, somewhere in a Hollywood boardroom, with an elaborate multiple choice flowchart spread across the table. It’s littered with options, and the guys around the table work their way across and choose from the options.

“So… Liam Neeson/Arnold Schwarzenegger/Sylvester Stallone…. yeah, Liam Neeson, definitely. As a…. cop/concerned father/alcoholic with a depressing past, on a train/boat/plane, yes definitely a plane! Because NO ONE CAN ESCAPE on a plane!! So he can be an AIR MARSHAL – he’s licensed to carry a gun but then he goes rogue! Yes! What other ingredients do we need? A kid going to reunite with a parent, will that be enough to garner sympathy? No.. how about the woman sitting next to him? She can have a terminal health problem, she doesn’t know when she’s going to die, she wants to live life to the fullest – while he’s wasting his!! YES!!! What else do we need? Attractive crew members, check. A bunch of passengers that can appear mildly suspicious for at least five minutes of the runtime? Yep, accounted for. An eleventh hour reveal of the bad guys and A NAIL BITING FINAL SEQUENCE THAT’S COMPLETELY INEVITABLE??? Do we get paid yet?”

(Sadly, this probably isn’t too far from the truth.)

Non-Stop plays out like a nonsensical game of join the dots, stumbling into every single foreseeable pothole on the completely preordained roadmap it lays out for itself. It’s content to be a middle of the road, B grade action thriller; there are very few surprises to be found, and it’s certainly not breaking new filmmaking ground.

Nothing wrong with that.

If you walk into Non-Stop expecting a paint by numbers airplane hijacking film – complete with 110% improbable plot twists and casual Islamophobia – then I can guarantee that you’ll have a jolly good time. It’s a film that meanders along as a perfectly serviceable action film until the third act, when the newest events aboard this very eventful NON-STOP flight from New York to London (geddit) become too ridiculous for words and it becomes into one of the funnier comedies I’ve seen recently. (A gun quite literally floats into Liam Neeson’s hand. That’s what you’re dealing with here.)

Liam Neeson plays the caricature of himself that he seems to just be phoning in for a paycheck at this point in time, and Julianne Moore really needs to be pickier with her projects lest she keeps appearing in recycled garbage like this. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave) surely took a wrong turn somewhere to end up on this set but somehow emerge from the lacklustre material unscathed.

There’s not really a lot more you can say about this film. You know what you’re paying to see, you know how it’s going to unfold, you know you’re probably going to have forgotten about it completely in a week’s time. But as for right now, Non-Stop is a decent amount of fun.

Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Non-Stop opens in cinemas nationally tomorrow, 27th February 2014.