Non-Stop, when ‘not bad’ is a compliment.
Non-Stop was contrived but in spite of itself ultimately not bad. I cannot rave about it, but I can’t really kick it around too much. The overall plot was reminiscent of nearly every other film that has preceded it in this genre with a few quick jerks of the story line to keep it from being a complete mash-up of other films. I believe the majority the audience will find this film unmemorable until they stumble upon it on Netflix years later when it will seem so formulaic to be laughable. What I am most looking forward to, is hearing people try to describe this to their friends on Monday mornings in the office. Non-Stop is not going to win any awards, and will likely be met with moderate box office success, but only as long as it’s competition is weak. In that respect, this is a perfect time for this movie. The only major flaw in this film is how repetitive it premise is. I believe I could vivisect this movie into its original story components. The only difficulty would be identifying which of the hundreds of films and books served as the template. Add Speed to Flight 93 and mix with Murder on The Orient Express. Every time something happened, I could swear I had seen it before. Although I will say, there were some very creative plot holes large enough to swallow a commercial airliner. I’m sorry; I did say I would not kick the film around too much, but it is just so generic that at times it’s hilarious. If you are looking for something new, original, and clever, this is not the film you want. If you want something you could swear you have seen before, that is unremarkable, this is right up your alley.
Non-Stop follows US Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) on an international flight between New York and London. Midflight he receives a text message via a closed TSA communications system from an unknown intruder. This text informs Bill that someone on the plane will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited into a given bank account. Bill Marks now has to find the perpetrator before anyone dies. There is just one problem, of many; TSA discovers the bank account is under Bill’s name, and he is branded a hijacker. Now there are only a few people he can trust to help him find the killer, his new friend Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), and flight attendant Nancy (Michelle Dockery). Time is running out, the odds are against him in this, and there are a lot of people to beat up.
Some things are done well, before you get the impression I am dumping all over this film. The consistency of Nesson’s performance is fantastic. He comes off as a frantic paranoid delusional trapped on an airplane. A grumpy man frequently confused and quick to anger, it’s easy to see how he could be confused with a hijacker. The film is also very successful in pushing a political agenda. The filmmakers have an obvious stance on some current security policies surrounding air travel. They did a good job pushing that statement with the subtlety of a 737. Unfortunately, the statement they are attempting to make is unsupported by the events in the film. They come off like a guy yelling at his AM radio. This film also shows the potential for writers John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle. They are relatively new, and as such, they seem to have fallen into some cliché plot holes and were stuck. The good news is if they learn from their mistakes here, they could very well go on to write something genuinely good, and move on from being “not bad”.
Non-Stop is reliably entertaining, but not exciting, just on the acceptable side of mediocre. 6 out of 10