With 2014 rapidly coming to a close, I am currently trying to get caught up on some of the movies that I either missed seeing or did not get a chance to review earlier this year. After all, in just another month and a half, it’ll be time for me to make out my “Best Of the Year List” and I want to have as many options as possible.
With that in mind, I just finished watching Liam Neeson in Non-Stop, an action-suspense film that came out way back in February.
In Non-Stop, Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks. It’s interesting to note that Bill Marks has the same initials as Bryan Mills, the very specifically trained CIA agent that Neeson plays in the Taken films. And really, Bill Marks might as well Bryan Mills because Neeson pretty much gives the exact same performance in Non-Stop that he previously gave in Taken. That’s not necessarily a criticism. There’s a reason why Liam keeps getting cast in these type of roles. He’s good at them.
In fact, I would say that Liam Neeson is one of the few action stars who I can imagine actually killing someone in real life (though only if he had to). He has a rugged, world-weary cynicism about him. You look into the eyes of a character played by Liam Neeson and you realize that he’s had to do things that you probably don’t want to know anything about. At the same time, Neeson also projects a certain old-fashioned decency as well. He’s the epitome of a decent man forced to use bad methods for the good of us all.
As for Non-Stop, I imagine it was probably pitched as being “Taken on a plane.” Bill Marks is an air marshal who is on board a non-stop flight from New York to London. Shortly after the plane takes off, he starts to receive mysterious text messages telling him that, unless he arranges for a 150 million dollar ransom to be paid into a specific bank account, someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes. While Bill tries to discover who is sending him the text messages and various people on the plane die, the authorities on the ground are convinced that Bill is hijacking the plane. Why? Well, mostly because the bank account is in Bill’s name…
That’s right! Somebody’s trying to frame Bill Marks! Can Bill — with the help of a passenger played by Julianne Moore — figure out who is trying to frame him and why? I have to admit that there was a part of me that was hoping that it would turn out that Bill really was the mastermind behind the whole scheme but instead, the movie offers up a solution that is even more ludicrous and illogical. Naturally, there’s a twist. The hijacking is not what it originally appears to be. Perhaps if Non-Stop itself was more fun, the total implausibility of the twist wouldn’t bother me.
Director Juame Collet-Serra (who previously directed Neeson in Unknown) manages a few good action sequence but, ultimately, Non-Stop is really saved only be the presence of Liam Neeson. Regardless of how implausible or silly the film may get, Neeson always brings a lot of authority to his role. He’s never more convincing than when he’s walking up and down the aisles, glaring at the passengers and barking out orders.
It’s the type of performance that leaves us assured that the world will be safe as long as Liam Neeson is around to kill people.