2014-02-28

Non-Stop – Liam Neeson’s Passenger 57

by Yo Snyder

Because Non-Stop
stars Liam Neeson, it’s constantly being referred to as Taken in the Air, or Taken on
a Plane
, or some variation of that. In truth, it really doesn’t have that
much in common with Taken at all, aside from the fact that Liam Neeson is in it.
If anything, Non-Stop is sort of like
a remake of Passenger 57, but since
it’s Neeson instead of Wesley Snipes, it can’t use that awesome line, “Always
bet on black!” I have to give kudos to the makers of this film because we just
don’t see many slow-burn, suspense/thriller mysteries made on the big screen anymore;
something to do with the decline of the audience’s attention span and the
demand for big spectacle. Unfortunately, Non-Stop
never really attain the lofty heights it reaches for, so in the end it ends up
being just a middling, passably entertaining but ultimately forgettable
suspense/thriller whose only real distinguishing feature is that Liam Neeson is
awesome no matter what he does.

The sad thing is there are many parts of this film that
work, but it’s never really able to click them all into place. The use of the
text messaging between Neeson and the mysterious passenger with nefarious plans
is done very well and builds some nice tension. I like that the film takes it’s
time to unravel the plot, and even though there a holes big enough to fly a
plane through, it’s still nice to see a movie that’s willing to take the slow
burn approach. Unfortunately, this is supposed to be an edge-of-you-seat
thriller, but I never got to the edge of my seat. In trying to insert itself
into that suspense/thriller genre it borrows so many elements that far too many
feel so familiar that the suspense never really builds to edge-of-your-seat
levels. There are red herrings and misdirections and twists and “surprises”,
but they’ve all been done before in better movies so none of it really feels
surprising so much as “ah, well that makes sense because this is that kind of
movie.” I quickly began expecting the next box of the suspense/thriller formula
to be dutifully ticked off, and Non-Stop
dutifully did just that. Entertaining, perhaps, but neither suspenseful nor
thrilling. I also don’t like that the one big moment in the movie is actually
ruined by the poster. It’s a cool scene, but I knew it was coming. It’s a shame
to run the climax of a slow burn movie like this that’s supposed to have an
explosive climax by making said moment a key part of the advertising. But then
when you really only have one big action scene, I guess you need to use it as a
selling point.

Of course, this being the post-9/11 era, and since this is a
movie about airplanes and security, that correlation has to be brought up at
some point. Done well, touching on that could have added some real poignancy to
this story. However, the way that topic is dealt with is neither subtle nor
elegant. It’s handled like a blunt object; which again is another missed
opportunity. Still, it brings up a good point; is there such a thing as
security? Are we ever really secure? The truth is that’s a question we need to
not only consider for the here and now, but for eternity as well. We can get obsessed
with making sure we and our families are secure and safe on a day to day basis,
but what about when this life is over? It seems short sighted to work for
security for the brief days we have on this rock and not even consider what
happens after. Jesus Christ addressed this very issue. He asked what good is it
if we gain the whole world but forfeit our souls? (Matthew 16:26) And he talked
of how he could grant security in eternal life, how we can truly be safe in the
hands of our Heavenly Father. (John 10:28) In short, if you want to know real
security Jesus has the answers. We need more than just security for the here
and now, which may or may not be an illusion, but security for the hereafter as
well, which is now illusion but a fact provided by the death and resurrection
of the man who claimed to be God.

As I watched Non-Stop,
there were some in the audience who laughed at the ridiculousness of it all,
and granted, some of it stretches credulity far beyond the breaking point.
Still, I appreciated the fact that the movie at least tried to do something
that isn’t attempted much in today’s movie and instead harkened back to past
glories of taut, methodical, suspense/thrillers. No, it doesn’t quite match up
with any of its predecessors, but at least it tried and, in parts, it had the
right elements to succeed but couldn’t quite bring them all together. In the
end, Non-Stop is just one more
B-level action vehicle for Liam Neeson, if you go in expecting that and nothing
more, you’ll be entertained…and nothing more.

Score: 4 of 7 – Non-Stop
has a couple action scenes that can be violent, but don’t have any blood or
gore. There are spots of turbulent language, but all in all this a pretty
typical, appeal to the widest audience PG-13 action film.