When you are looking for an unlikely hero, who better to call than the straight-faced, weary-eyed Irishman Liam Neeson, right? After all, it seems nowadays that he is the go-to guy when you need a middle-aged action man.
The film revolves around US air marshal, Bill Marks (Neeson), who is called into action whilst aboard a transatlantic flight heading to London after receiving text messages from an unknown passenger threatening to kill someone every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into an off-shore bank account. Supported by fellow passenger, Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), and flight attendant, Nancy (Michelle Dockery), Marks, under pressure and against the clock, must act decisively before it is too late. But yes, not is all that is seems. Go figure, eh?
Collet-Serra shoots Non-Stop in typical ‘who done it?’ fashion, switching between one potential suspect to another, close-up by close-up, like some typically dross daytime TV detective show. However, to our relief, it works, building suspense and successfully keeping the audience at large as to who has actually tried to hijack this unfortunate airplane.
Comparisons to Taken are inevitable, but Non-Stop is less shoot-em-up and more of psychological tale. In typical Neeson fashion, Marks is a troubled man, an alcoholic with family issues, who is pushed to the limit, both physically and emotionally. Occasionally this borders on sentimental, with constant references to Marks’ dead daughter, but generally it gives the film a level of depth other modern thrillers severely lack. His past well and truly comes back to haunt him, leaving both himself, and his fellow passengers, questioning as to whether he really is fit to protect them.
What is the films biggest positive, however, is how it soaks itself in 9/11 hysteria. It is not just the matter of a hijacked plane, but the director subtly incorporates several references to racial scaremongering that was brought to the forefront of American society post 9/11. Flight safety is, in its own rather unrealistic, over-elaborate way, paramount to Collet-Serra’s thinking, and essential to the films outcome.
Non-Stop may not be perfect, but it is enjoyable, with regular twists and turns to a story line that involves a modern, technological edge. Fast-paced and well constructed, it has the depth to it to keep audiences guessing, as well as glued to their screens.