Non-Stop – Not exactly Taken on a plane
If I were to attempt a one line review for Non-Stop it would be this: Fun movie, good action, but struggles to realize the full potential of an inflight suspense film. With that said, let me see if I can draw that summary out and give a good overview of why that is a fitting one liner. Non-Stop was introduced to the audience as “Taken on Plane” which has more to say about Liam Neeson’s type cast character he has portrayed as of late than the plot (the movie has almost no story ties to Taken in case you are wondering). With that said, Mr. Neeson does an admirable job of portraying the older gruff government agent who can kick butt when needed. In Non-Stop, he plays a washed out, alcoholic sky marshal. The result of a father wrecked with guilt over the loss of a daughter to cancer while he was busy keeping the skies safe from terrorists. This is a role that Liam Neeson play’s well and he certainly delivers good fight sequences that make this film fun to watch. The film has some good ideas that add to the suspense and excitement such as using text messages to keep our villain a mystery (think Sherlock with scrolling messages on the side of the screen as they are typed and sent). It also uses the tight quarters of the plane to build suspense and boost the fight sequences.
I give Non-Stop two big thumbs up for attempting a slow reveal. I really enjoy the slow reveal movie that tries to build tension without having over-the-top action sequences to keep the audience engaged. Unfortunately, Non-Stop struggled to give the audience an engaging plot line and never really delivered the suspense movie it attempted. Slow reveals can be tricky, one movie that comes to mind that had the perfect balance needed to pull off a good suspense film was Oblivion. It takes a careful balance of action and suspense + an solid story line to keep the audience’s attention as you slowly reveal the plot twist. That’s another thing that left me wanting more, the plot twist. When we finally find out why our bad guys are targeting Liam Neeson’s character, we don’t get much satisfaction. In fact, you might find yourself going “really, that’s why all this is taking place”? Something you look for in a good suspense/slow reveal movie is a very engaging reason you just sat through the slow reveal. Non-Stop leaves you wanting, and that’s a bad thing to deliver at the end of a movie. You walk out thinking, man that could have been a lot better.
One item the movie attempts to tackle is airline security post 9/11. As far as 9/11 plot lines go, the movie does little to deal with how 9/11 impacts the situation Liam Neeson’s character finds himself in. The main contribution coming in the form of protocol for dealing with a terrorist’s demands while hijacking a plane. If anything, the movie is an attempt to punch a hole in our notions that 9/11 has done anything to improve security on planes, but does a poor job of making that point. The film does take the security idea and asks an interesting question, are any of us really ever secure? To me, a better question might be how do we go through all the insecure situations life throws at us and remain confident and secure? I say this because, no amount of prepping, no amount of government oversight, will ever provide security such that we don’t find ourselves in threatening situations. And when our life is threatened, only one thing can really provide security and that is confidence in our salvation through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:13-14 says “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” That is my eternal security, that when I first believed in Christ for my redemption, I received the Holy Spirit as a good deposit upon my salvation unto heaven. So when I face the threats of life, I take comfort that God has given me assurance that I am His and will be brought into heaven to enjoy eternal life with Him to His glory.
Score: 4 out of 7 – One benefit of Non-Stop is it’s a relatively tame PG13. No real blood or gore, a few violent fight scenes, a mild suggestive love scene, but all in all, a toned down PG13.