Ever since 2008’s “Taken” I’ve been a sucker for Liam Neeson action movies.
By some accounts, that 2008 actioner largely redefined Neeson’s career, adding an unexpected layer to his reputation as a serious, Academy Award-nominated actor.
“Taken” certainly wasn’t the stuff of art-house cinema, mind you, but a bit of fun, popcorn cinematic fluff to which Neeson added authority and gravitas, helping turn an otherwise mediocre film into a thoroughly enjoyable affair.
So, as with Neeson’s other action flicks since “Taken,” I was pulled into “Non-Stop,” anticipating the kind of rip-roaring good time I’ve come to expect from Neeson the action star.
To be clear, “Non-Stop” DOES deliver on some of that promise, with Neeson delivering the goods as Bill Marks, an alcoholic US Federal Air Marshall haunted by the death of his eight-year-old daughter and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage. As interpreted by Neeson, Marks is a relatable-enough guy, although he’s an undeniable cinematic cliché: the haunted, flawed everyman hero who also happens to be a serious butt-kicker.
Oddly enough, Marks isn’t a fan of flying – especially of takeoffs – but fortunately he’s got passenger Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) in the seat beside him to help soothe his nerves. When an anonymous sender starts transmitting threatening text messages to Marks’ smartphone, over a Federally-secured and encrypted network, it’s not long before Marks can find comfort nowhere aboard his filled-to-capacity transatlantic flight from the United States to England.
The anonymous texter, you see, threatens to kill one passenger every 20 minutes unless Marks arranges for $150 million to be deposited into a pre-arranged bank account. Through a series of twists, the unknown sender starts making good on that threat, with one passenger after another dropping on schedule.