Dir: Jaume Collet Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore
The title of this movie should have been Non Stop Nonsense because that’s exactly what it is. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, because the film is harmless, passable escapist fun.
A still from 'Non Stop'
If you’ve watched Liam Neeson’s Taken and its sequel, then prepare yourself for Taken on a Plane, which has simply been rebranded as Non Stop.
Non Stop has been directed by Jaume Collet Serra, who made Goal 2, the twisted horror thriller, Orphan, and last year’s Unknown. All of these things share a common DNA – they all have very interesting plotlines that culminate in a ridiculous third act. Non Stop follows the exact same procedure. Neeson plays an Air Marshall, who sets foot on the worst flight from New York to London — he receives a message on his phone from an unknown person who hacks into the flight’s WiFi and threatens to kill someone on board every twenty minutes. Think Executive Decision starring Taken’s protagonist, with all the brains of a Steven Segal movie and the visual sheen of a Luc Besson film.
Since this is a Liam Neeson action movie, we get a stock set of elements — his backstory involves separation from his wife and daughter, a former career in police work, a specific set of martial arts skills, the ability to charm women on the go and an Irish accent. It’s like the filmmakers initially pitched in the third installment of Taken and the studios just decided to make it a new franchise instead. I won’t be surprised if Neeson appears in Non Stop 2, where he’s stuck on a space ship with a threatening caller on the phone.
There is plenty of silly stuff in the film to enjoy, like the gigantic plot holes, the hilariously contrived motives of the antagonist, and even a crash landing. Most of the runtime is spent in letting us guess who the killer on the flight is, seeing as the ‘calls are coming from inside the house’. There is even Julianne Moore put in as a red herring with a weepy backstory accompanied by sad orchestral music and you wonder if the filmmaker is pulling your leg. When the antagonist is finally revealed, it doesn’t even matter because you’re so caught up with measuring the level of implausibility in the film.
Non Stop would have been much more fun had it been a comedy that satirised plane hijacking thrillers and not taken itself so seriously. None of these shortcomings mean that you shouldn’t watch the film — it’s just that you’ve already seen it happen many times before.