I am a Liam Neeson fan. He has successfully reinvented himself as this middle-aged, semi believable common man, action hero over the past few years. And the Taken series (of which there will a another) has been a big success.
But Non-Stop is an interesting idea for a mid-winter action movie, with it focusing on United States Air Marshall's. Of course, they are undercover, and are on every flight in the U.S.. This is sort of a story of who they are, and a airliner disaster story, and a movie that deals with the real threat of terrorism that sadly still exists on every flight, try as we might. But this is where the set up is going to end, as this has a sad and for some, a bothersome storyline.
Neeson plays an Air Marshall, Bill. In the opening scene before he gets on a trans-Atlantic flight as Marshall, they establish this him as a fragile, chain smoking, drunken, depressed, divorced, not kept, suicidal, sad excuse of a man. Understanding you have to invent an interesting character for the movie, but I hardly think that is the typical United States Air Marshall. Because this is an action movie, he really isn't all that horrible of a Marshall, and somehow finds a way to save the day. That is not a spoiler, you know Liam Neeson is not going to die in this movie. And for some reason Julianne Moore is in this movie, but she is not needed. Her part is so small, could have been handled by anyone. Plus, she sells no tickets to any movie - anywhere.
The flight to London from the U.S., has been silently taken over by someone who has calculated this to the nines. They are demanding 150 million dollars into an account that bears Bill's name. The whole idea is to frame him for the crime of hijacking this plane and make him responsible for the deaths of everyone that will be killed on this flight one way or another, while they get away with the money. So, who on this flight is actually the hijacker? That is Non-Stop.
Non-Stop do a degree is basically just that. It paces along quite well, with enough happening on screen to hold your interest for the most part. Some of this is of course silly, and far-fetched, but hey, it's an action movie. They do a fairly good job of creating characters as the movie rolls along that make the soup a little tastier. And Neeson, although he kind of plays the same character for the most part he does in Taken, is fine.
But, they are not very cunning in making you guess who the bad guy really is. They blow that early in the movie and I don't think they know that. Also, many people who pay to see this will be put back, and possibly offended when they find out who the "bad guys" really are. It simply will not sit well with many. And in the end, that is part of movie making. Trying to create polarizing moments and characters to attempt to make things more intersting.
But that is the big failure of this movie. The writers took the easiest way out imaginable. They didn't think to take the time to create a villain that is original, and complex, and has his/her own story that would have taken some thought and imagination. That was the absolute strength of the blockbuster, Captain Phillips. They took the time, and used their creativity to make a villain with his own story that was interesting and powerful, and to a degree empathetic. It takes vision and talent to write that well, that just doesn't fly here, no pun intended. The bad guys are just an after thought. Glaring flaw of the movie, and it's not really recoverable. Lazy, stale writing.
Non-Stop. In the end too formula, too predictable, and too easy to really be good. Opportunity wasted. Fair at best.