The Bock’s Office: Action is stunted but solid in ‘Non-Stop’
March 6, 2014
Steamboat Springs — A trying experience like air travel is not meant for the impatient. The people who can't help but tear into a bag of peanuts seconds after finding their seats are exactly the crowd the makers of "Non-Stop" had in mind as their audience, but it may be the folks with the greater attention span who will enjoy it more.
United States Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) isn't looking forward to his latest trip. With too many personal problems in his life to count, overseeing a lengthy flight from New York to London is the last thing he needs.
He finds out things can always get more stressful when he receives a text message from an anonymous number on what is supposed to be a secure cell phone. The mystery sender demands $150 million be deposited into a bank account. Failing to comply will result in the death of one person on the plane every 20 minutes.
Marks can't believe such a threat could be real, but he's also in no position to ignore it. Trouble is, the pilots, flight attendants and his fellow air marshal (Anson Mount) aren't convinced something is afoot.
Even when it becomes clear somebody is deadly serious, Marks is held back by the fact that his dicey history makes him the top suspect.
Ever since "Taken" gave him a Hollywood rebirth, Neeson has shown his capability for lending credibility to the action genre. Some attempts have been good — "The A-Team" — some OK — "The Grey" — and some just awful — "Unknown," "Taken 2" — but you can always depend on the actor rising above material that would benefit little from other stars in the role.
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Julianne Moore as the woman who just happens to sit next to him is no slouch, even though her main function is to get orders barked at her by the lawman who doesn't entirely trust her.
Of course, not a soul onboard is 100 percent innocent, based on the camera's suspicious gaze. Could it be the obnoxious cop (Corey Stoll) in coach? The surly TSA agent (Nate Parker)? The little girl (Quinn McColgan) on a plane for the first time?
The man (Omar Metwally) in the Muslim prayer cap is scoped out just a little too long in the initial rundown of possible culprits, as if director Jaume Collet-Serra wants to say, "Shame on you all."
Yeah, point that finger right back at yourself, buddy.
If there is a message here, that isn't it, but an air of suspense that comes a little later than it should keeps our interest and separates the proceedings from being too much like "Passenger 57," "Air Force One" or "Snakes on a Plane." Neeson is captivating enough that he makes it seem like a real battle to uncover the true villain, even if the barrage of texts he receives and sends — projected larger in case the crowd doesn't want to strain their eyes — alternates between being engaging and distracting.
Though its name promises more action than it can supply, "Non-Stop" is entertaining enough for the casual viewer, and it may make you think, just a tiny bit, certainly not too much, about who's keeping you safe in the skies. Just don't make the mistake of actually watching this while you're 40,000 feet above the Atlantic because that kind of synchronicity would drive anyone to madness.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.
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