“Non-Stop” is the story of Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), a federal air marshal who is framed for hijacking a plane that he has sworn to protect from an unknown homicidal enemy. It all starts with a text message from the hijacker saying “Are you ready to do your job marshal?” and then goes on to state that someone will die every 20 minutes unless they are paid 150 million dollars. With that limited amount of time, Marks enlists an eclectic group of passengers and crew to solve who the true hijackers and murders are.
The plot builds slowly, setting itself up for a thrilling and thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately it falls flat as soon as the real hijackers are revealed. The motive for the hijacking is cliché, and in all honesty, weak. The motives used to try to disarm them are unbelievable at best and often just far-fetched.
As for the cast of characters in the movie, few of them are properly fleshed out. Liam Neeson’s character would be compelling had he not been playing the stereotypical Liam Neeson typecast he has been favoring lately. What I mean by this is he is playing practically the same role as the one he performed in the “Taken” movies. He is a federal agent gone rogue for a higher cause; he has issues with his daughter, and has his fair share of inner demons. Neeson’s character is the only one that develops fully over the course of the movie.
There is some characterization of Julianne Moore’s character, as one of the passengers Neeson’s character collects to help solve the mystery. Unfortunately however, the scene where this aspect occurs seems forced. For the other characters, we only learn some surface information, such as their occupations. Underdeveloped characters have unfortunately become a norm in most action movies, and it continues to get more disappointing each year.
Despite the lack of characterization and the unbelievable weak ending, “Non-Stop” is good for the first three-quarters of its runtime. It carries an intriguing story that reels the viewer in, and it’s not executed in an intrusive way either, as the unfolding of the plot is subtle for a film of this genre.
The majority of the movie is set on a nighttime flight, and the setting of the crowded cabin creates a sense of claustrophobia, which increases the thrill of the movie. Another part of the setting that is used effectively is the route of the plane. The flight from Halifax to London is on average just over six hours, most of it over the Atlantic Ocean. This transatlantic journey isolates the plane from the outside world and also deprives it of options. This isolation drives the mystery along, and helps build necessary suspense.
Colorization and lighting is also effectively used to set the tone of the movie. The color blue is used to create a foreboding hopeless tone, and the nighttime setting allows for minimal lighting, further creating the sense of claustrophobia.
All in all, “Non-Stop” is worth going to see at least for the first 3/4 of it. However, it will work best as a matinee showing, or when it gets released at a dollar theater.
Only Recommended If: You enjoy claustrophobic action thrillers.