Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 12, 2014

Aging Neeson keeps 'Non-Stop' going

By Ryan Maddux and Andy Stuckey
Daily News

---- — Liam Neeson’s latest action flick is the action-thriller Non-Stop (PG-13).

In the film Neeson stars as a distraught Federal Air Marshal who must figure out which passenger is terrorizing their international flight to London. Julianne Moore, Scotty McNairy, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong’o costar in the film. Jaume Collet-Serra directs.

Ryan: Let’s be honest, it is hard to believe that a 61-year-old Irish actor known more for drama is Hollywood’s “Last Action Hero.”

But it’s true. Nobody but Neeson — not Stallone, not Schwarzenegger, not Willis –– can steadily open run-of-the-mill action movies. His films, because of their success, have become a sub-genre in-and-of-themselves. Non-Stop is on its way to being another feather in Neeson’s cap as it opened at number one at the Box Office. Fans of Neeson’s movies will like Non-Stop; it’s serviceable as an action vehicle. But in my view it was just an okay film at best. There’s not a lot to really recommend about it to general audiences.

Andy: I will echo Ryan’s comments that it is baffling that Liam Neeson successfully continues to star in these action films. Having not seen any of Neeson’s action movies before, I was very skeptical going in. My skepticism was quickly abated, as I was plunged into the intense world of Liam Neeson’s air marshal within the first 20 minutes of the movie. The film sets up a captive environment that we can all relate to: Being on a commercial airliner with little control of your fate. Directer Juame Collet-Serra realizes how visceral this circumstance is for most people and successfully milks it for almost 90 minutes of the film.

Ryan: Taken is the crème de le crème of Neeson’s action movies, and as with Taken Non-Stop starts with an intriguing and interesting premise — that of an unknown passenger sending text messages to Neeson stating that if he/she doesn’t get $150 million dollars than he’s going to start killing one passenger every 20 minutes.

The inherent tension is built into the plot. Unfortunately, unlike with Taken, the premise starts to collapse upon itself as the movie progresses. At some point the villains have to reveal themselves and it becomes underwhelming when they do. Furthermore the motivations behind their actions are very discombobulated and not convincing at all. Neeson is great at playing the tortured hero, but he needs a worthy adversary. A more nuanced villain would have gone a long way in making Non-Stop a more noteworthy film. As it stands, however, Non-Stop is a middling film worthy of a C.

Andy: I am compelled to compare this film to movies that usually star Jason Statham. The plot is a little lacking, the hero is not developed with much depth, and the action happens fast and frequently. Much like Statham’s films, I found Non-Stop to be unreasonably entertaining.

Neeson is much more of an unlikely action hero, but he brings a gravitas that allows the audience to accept his action skills. Clearly, there are flaws with this film, including further evidence that movies have a hard time representing our reliance on text messages. In general, however, Non-Stop brings enough entertainment to earn a B.