Liam Neeson's rise to action hero status began in earnest with Taken. In that film he was a father doing everything necessary to protect his daughter. In his latest film Non-Stop he is also a father but everything he does is to protect a plane full of strangers. It isn't personal and that is just one of the flaws of the film. All of the action moments are there but the heart isn't.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, a Federal Air Marshall on a trans-Atlantic flight. As soon as he boards the flight and it has taken off, he begins to receive messages on his phone that someone is going to be killed every twenty minutes. He is told to have a certain amount of money wired to a certain account in order to stop the killing.
Now that sounds like an excellent premise for an action packed film, but it isn't. For one thing the supposed hero is too flawed. Marks is an Air Marshall with a troubled past. So troubled it is highly doubtful he would have ever been allowed to keep his job, or even get hired in the first place. Having him so flawed is the first strike in the lack of credibility of the movie.
Next there is the explanation at the end of the film as to who is the bad guy and why. This is pure mumbo-jumbo in the worst way. A lot of words are used to explain what created the situation on the aircraft but the person telling the story might just as well have been spouting gibberish. It just doesn't wash and ends the film on a bad note.
Then there is the acting. This movie has Neeson singing lead and Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o singing backup. Not one of these women is crucial to the movie's plot. They are just there to dance around Neeson and react while he acts. This is a major waste of talent. Moore is a former Academy Award nominee, while Nyong'o is a current nominee. Dockery is the star of the hit television series "Downton Abbey."
Neeson is still interesting in a grungy sort of way, but this time out he doesn't manage to get inside the head or the heart of his character. You are rooting for him most of the time but not with the same enthusiasm you have had in other movies.
The film is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
Non-Stop looked to be a film as exciting as Taken was, but in the end it isn't. Neeson doesn't connect; the plot doesn't gel; and all three actresses might just as well have taken another flight. Oh well, there is always Taken 3.
I scored Non-Stop an airborne 5 out of 10.
Jackie K. Cooper