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Review: ‘Non-Stop’

I’m not trying to hijack this plane. I’m trying to save it”

Liam Neeson plays an U.S. air marshal having a very bad day in the aptly name...

Photo by Universal Pictures

Above: Liam Neeson plays an U.S. air marshal having a very bad day in the aptly named "Non-Stop," which open on Feb. 28.

Everyone has horror stories when it comes to airplanes: Colicky babies. Middle seats with no arm rests. Serial killers threatening to murder a passenger every 20 minutes unless they get $150 million. "Sex in the City 2" as an inflight movie.

Luckily for Liam Neeson and his 150 fellow trans-Atlantic passengers in the action-thriller “Non-Stop," it’s just the serial killer.

True to its name, the movie quickly picks up speed and never slows down. Director Jaume Collet-Serra — who worked with Neeson in 2011’s "Unknown" — uses fancy tilt-shift lens to show his leading man’s distorted view of the world and first impressions of the plane’s passengers. But eight minutes into an Agatha Christie-like introduction, the wheels are up and the countdown begins for one unlucky ticket holder to become the first member of a “mile-high club” no one wants to join.

Companion Viewing




"Murder on the Orient Express"

Like many of his recent films, Neeson ("Schindler's List," "The Grey") plays a large, troubled, unshaven man with a particular set of skills, in this case, how to bypass smoke detectors in airplane bathrooms (duct tape) and the best way to meet stewardesses (be an U.S. air marshal). At 61, Neeson understands his days of being an action star are limited, but in “Non-Stop,” the big Irishman does not ask for a senior discount.

Neeson admitted recently on “60 Minutes” that he’s embraced his current hot streak and is “milking it a little bit.” Neeson has made 20 movies since his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died from a tragic skiing accident only two months after “Taken” launched him back into the limelight. "Taken 3” reportedly is paying Neeson $50 million, which is how much "Non-Stop" cost to make.

Joining Neeson on his bumpy flight are Julianne Moore ("The Big Lebowski," "Children of Men"), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary in “Downton Abbey”) and Oscar-nominee Lupita Nyong’o ("12 Years a Slave"). Moore and Dockery play crucial roles as key allies and occasional suspects in the fast-paced mystery. Nyong’o is sorely underutilized and left to look worried and hand out snacks and drinks. Nate Parker (“Red Tails”), Anson Mount (AMC’s “Hell on Wheels,” “In Her Shoes”), Scoot McNairy ("12 Years a Slave,” “Argo”) and 11-year-old Quinn McColgan have the good/bad luck of sitting next to Neeson on an unfortunate day.

Shot on actual film in a set custom-built to accommodate tricky camera movements and a 6-foot-4 leading man, "Non-Stop" is a claustrophobic, old-school, action-packed, PG-13 thriller fit for the whole family. The landing might be a little rough literally and figuratively, but as any pilot — and probably Liam Neeson too — can tell you: Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.

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