During a routine Transatlantic flight, Air Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), receives a series of text messages from an unknown person, threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless a $150 million ransom is paid by the airline. Thinking he is being wound up, he dismisses the texts as a sick joke, however things start taking a turn for the worst when the bodies start piling up and Marks finds himself being framed as the chief suspect.
Its then down to the beleaguered air marshal and a plucky passenger (Julianne Moore) to find out which of the passengers is the villain and stop the air force from shooting down the plane.
It had to happen, I knew it couldn’t last. 2014 was going so well – just about every film id seen so far this year had been superb. The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club – all brilliant, even the Robocop remake wasn’t bad. So, being the total sucker for an action film that I am, I merrily toddled off to my local Cineworld to watch this stinking pile of pants.
Now Non Stop should have worked – Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore are always good value, its produced by the legendary Joel Silver (Predator, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard etc.), the plot seemed interesting, the trailer screamed “top action movie” – hell even the poster looked great. Not only that, when it was released in the US, it flew straight to the top of the box office with a $30 million opening weekend!
So what went wrong I hear you cry? Well friends, just about bloody everything.
For a start the script is woefully awful, with characters that are cliché’ to a fault. Marks is a grieving alcoholic, one of the stewardesses is having a fling with the co pilot, everyone on the plane is made to look suspicious and of course there’s the obligatory vomit inducing, teddy bear wielding 9 year old, who (predictably) is on her 1st flight by herself – laugh? I nearly asked for a sick bucket.
As far as the performances go, the normally superb Neeson seems to have just shown up for the money and is by turns cheesy, and ineffective in the lead role. Julianne Moore fares no better, her bland character given no depth or backstory – quite what an actress of her ability and range is doing in this nonsense is beyond me. Jaume Collett Serra’s direction is uninspiring , boringly by the numbers and criminally fails on every level to crank up any tension or deliver one half way decent action scene. Even the shootout at the films climax lacks any and all excitement – I mean how hell does a director screw up a scene showing the mighty Liam Neeson flying through the air firing a handgun??! Answer – you just don’t – it aint the done thing old son.
Dammit there’s no place for films like this anymore, you could get away with it in the 80’s and 90’s but not now. The next two years are going to be some of the most exciting times the cinema has ever seen. Talented directors like JJ Abrams, Chris Nolan and Joss Whedon, are out there right now, taking their time developing sharp scripts and good stories, –basically making damn sure that we, the punters get our money’s worth.
OK, yes I’ll admit that Non Stop isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen and it passed the time well enough, but If I wanted to see a rehash of the likes of Executive Decision or Air Force One – id simply just watch them again.
All I would say is that, if studios are going to recycle and redo old films , then at the very least write a good script, throw in a few decent characters, and for God’s sake don’t bore me! It was done brilliantly last year with the fantastic Olympus Has Fallen and there is no reason it shouldn’t have been done here.
Liam you are better than this, and to producer Joel Silver – a word to the wise, the glory days of the 80’s are over mate, get some inspiration and stop living on the past.
Author: Will Strong
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