Non-Stop - Review
Non-Stop is the perfect example of a film which takes off strongly, soars for forty minutes or so, hits some turbulence and eventually performs a crash landing into the evergreen pastures of cliche, to the point that it could be renamed Please-Stop. Despite marketing to the contrary this is not an unofficial Taken 3. The premise of the film feels like something that Hitchcock would have been interested in, given the moral implications of certain decisions and a setting which has inherent suspense. Unfortunately the writers of this film do not posses the third act skills to rescue it.
Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a grizzled burnt-out-former-cop who has taken a job as an Air Marshall. Although he hates flying, he’s a functioning alcoholic and chronically in debt. Bill’s day starts with pre-flight cocktails in his car, gulping down equal parts whiskey and regret before lurching his way through the terminal to take his fateful flight. Once on board little does he know that this isn’t going to be a normal day at the office … you know the drill it’s die hard on a plane.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Orphan and House of Wax) sets up Bill’s world superbly in the opening minutes of the film, so much so that i actually got pretty excited for what was to come. There is little to no dialogue as Bill makes his way through the airport, interpreting the body language of his fellow passengers. This process is assisted by snappy editing highlighting that Bill has only a few seconds with most of the people he’s monitoring. It was a clever way to show the world from Bill’s perspective. Really a case of show don’t tell, which I always admire. There’s a thin veil of threat draped over opening sequences which instantly drew me into the story. Now despite my overall feelings towards this film i’d happily explore more of Collet-Serra’s filmography.
Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore are the biggest names on the call sheet although the supporting cast is littered with serviceable actors including Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly), Michelle Dockery (Hanna) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave). As he did in 2011s The Grey, Neeson brings a sense of inner turmoil and hardship to the screen, which is offset well by Julianne Moore’s, the two had great chemistry on screen but were hamstrung by a fairly terrible script.
John W. Richardson shares the writing credits with four other writers, however the story is attributed to him so sadly he will have to wear responsibilities for the shortcomings. As i mentioned earlier I admire what the story was attempting to do, but it’s issues are plainly obviously. The story paints itself into to a corner that isn’t resolved in either an interesting or original way. It’s fair to say that things aren’t all that they seem to be, but when the inevitably twists and turns are played out it basically tears down all the good work done by the beginning of the film.
Whilst by no means a bad film, Non-Stop just isn’t particularly thrilling. If you’re looking for one of those stock-standard-friday night films then this’ll do the job, maybe after a long week you’ll overlook the rough edges, switch off your brain and appreciate it for the cinematic junk food that it is. For everyone else I suggest going out and catching one of the far superior films that are around at the moment.
Non-Stop is currently in cinemas, if you see the film and agree or disagree with my review feel free to drop a line below.