2013 was a bad year for air travel. Terrorists were crashing planes, weapons manufacturers were crashing planes, and zombies were crashing planes. Even outer space wasn’t safe from meteor showers or starship warfare. But thank your lucky stars, because Liam Neeson has stood up and said, “Enough,” in that brilliant Irish monotone.
Non-Stop tells the story of an air marshal trying to protect the passengers on his flight from a deadly killer. Does it soar high or crash and burn? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this movie? Obviously, the main character, Bill Marks, is played by Liam Neeson of Schindler’s List, Taken, Batman Begins, and, most recently, The Lego Movie. His costar is Julianne Moore, who has previously appeared in Magnolia, The Big Lebowski, and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Other actors include Downton Abbey‘s Michelle Dockery and Scoot McNairy from Argo and 12 Years a Slave. The director is Jaume Collet-Serra, whose other films include House of Wax, Orphan, and Unknown, also starring Liam Neeson. I haven’t seen any of those movies, so I don’t know what he brings to this film, but based on the scores from rottentomatoes.com, his movies in general are mediocre at best.
The trailer begins with Liam Neeson talking about how much he hates flying. Calm down, C-3PO, the plane hasn’t even taken off yet. Also, lines, crowds, and delays have nothing to do with flying. What you really don’t like are airports. Julianne Moore says she likes flying. “Six hours, one seat, nobody can get to you.” Except that one guy in the seat next to you who falls asleep and drools all over your shoulder. As the plane takes off from New York to London, Liam Neeson heads to the bathroom and takes out his gun and his badge. Why? To make sure he hadn’t left them at home, I guess. And isn’t it a really bad idea to take a gun onto a plane, even if you’re a good guy? If you have to shoot someone and you miss because of turbulence or something, wouldn’t the bullet hole wreck the cabin’s air pressure? I’m not saying anyone’s going to get sucked out the window a la Goldfinger, but that’s not going to be good for the rest of the flight.
As the Aqualantic (Seriously? That’s the best airline name they could come up with?) flight heads out over the ocean, Liam Neeson gets a text saying that someone on the plane is going to die every twenty minutes. He then repeats that information for those of us who can’t read, adding that the killer wants $150 million transferred to a certain bank account. The pilot asks, “How can you kill someone on a crowded plane and get away with it?” Clearly, he’s never read Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds. Then the cameras on the plane go out, Liam Neeson’s watch beeps, and the Downton Abbey air hostess finds a dead body. “Do I have your attention now?” the killer asks via text. Because you didn’t text me back! Also, I’d like to point out that the threat came at 10:42, but the question about attention didn’t come until 11:14. That’s thirty-two minutes, so what was the killer doing the extra twelve? Did he drop his phone in the airplane toilet?
Liam Neeson tells all the passengers to put their hands up. The air hostess says it’s a bad idea, and I have to agree. Now is not the time to put your hands in the air and wave them around like you just don’t care. And since Liam Neeson decides not to tell them about the killer, some people are naturally curious and just a bit resistant. This, of course, is a bad idea, since Liam Neeson beats the stuffing out of them, which doesn’t look good for him since the bank account number the killer gave is in his name. Could he be the killer? Nah, M. Night Shyamalan’s not directing.
But that won’t stop this plot twist, because as Liam Neeson corners the air hostess and tells her that they’re being set up for something else, the plane starts to shake. Someone with feminine hands (probably Julianne Moore) fastens a seatbelt and presses a button on the ceiling. Liam Neeson runs down the aisle and uncovers a bomb. And word comes over the news that the government thinks Liam Neeson is the one responsible for hijacking the flight. So wait, we went from killing people for ransom to framing an air marshal for hijacking? Which movie are we watching? I’m fine with either, but pick one and stick with it!
The Air Force sends out fighter jets to escort the plane to a safe landing place. What exactly are they going to do if he doesn’t comply, shoot down the plane and kill every passenger on board? Maybe they’re thinking he’s trying to 9/11 London, so the passengers are dead either way, but that’s still going to look bad on the six o’clock news. Liam Neeson says they’re running out of time in one of the most intimidating tones I’ve ever heard, and then the plane drops like it’s in a game of Flappy Bird and everyone goes flying. It’s more fun if you put your hands in the–no, wait, I’ve already made that joke about a plane crash. Oxygen masks fall out of the ceiling, a guy in a camouflage jacket tries to keep Liam Neeson away from his gun, an explosion puts a giant flaming hole in the back of the plane, and Liam Neeson says, “I did not hijack this plane. I’m trying to save it!” And the trailer ends as he hee hee hee hee… Sorry. He grabs his ha ha ha ha… I’m sorry. Hang on. His gun flies up into the air, and he grabs it and points it at the screen as he leaps to the side. I’m sorry, but not even Liam Neeson can make that look … well, not silly. If he was in the Matrix, maybe, but moves like that should not exist outside of an music video.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Sort of. I mean, it’s Liam Neeson being awesome and punching people and shooting things. It’s hard to go wrong with that kind of movie … if you’re not looking for substance. The plot seems overcomplicated to the point of being ridiculous, the director has a history of mediocre movies, and quite honestly, it just looks like a generic action film that doesn’t require a whole lot of thought. If that’s what you’re looking for, go right ahead, but be warned that it’s probably too intense for younger family members. Will I see it? Not in theaters, but I might be convinced to check it out on DVD if I get bored one day.
My final advice? If you see Liam Neeson board your plane, get a new flight.
Non-Stop is owned by Universal Studios.