MRR Review: "Non-Stop"

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An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.
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Rating: PG-13

Length: 106 minutes

Release Date: February 28, 2014

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra

Genre: Action / Mystery / Thriller

 

Airplane thrillers are tense, explosive and claustrophobic, keeping viewers constantly on the edge of their seats. "Non-Stop" is no exception, delivering a well-paced plot full of action and suspense. Bill Marks is a disgruntled air marshal on a seemingly mundane flight, but things heat up when he receives a series of mysterious text messages from a potential terrorist. When passengers start dropping dead, Bill knows that this is no joke, and he sets out to stop the unknown killer. Featuring a great story and superb acting, "Non-Stop" is a creative thriller that keeps viewers guessing at every turn.

Bill Marks, who is played by Liam Neeson, is a burned-out air marshal and former police officer who hates flying and is tired of his career, which he equates to an airborne desk job. Before leaving on his next flight, Bill fights with his boss and takes out his anger on a stranger. He also downs some whiskey while in the airport car park, giving viewers a glimpse into his character. Bill boards an international flight from New York to London, and he then receives a series of mysterious text message sent over the plane's secure network. 

The messages state that until the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore bank account, one passenger is to die every 20 minutes. Sure enough, passengers begin dropping dead in unexpected ways, which leads Bill to believe that the threat is serious. Bill explains the predicament to the pilot, but when the pilot discovers that the bank account number given by the killer is in Bill's name, he becomes the prime suspect. He eventually seeks the aid of Jen Summers, played by Julianne Moore, the woman seated next to him in first class, as well as several other passengers. The tension builds as Bill finds a bomb on the plane. Bill must try to protect the passengers and himself before it is too late, searching through 147 passengers to find the one responsible for the threats and the killings.

The plot twists in "Non-Stop" are fresh, exciting and far from predictable, adding to the nail-biting thrill that comes with the high-stakes plot. The killer's identity is not obvious, and the revelation does not disappoint. Relatively unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra expertly carries out the script, keeping the plot fast-paced without skimming over important details or failing to develop the characters. The impending manhunt on Bill Marks creates a new level of excitement as the protagonist must find the killer without being himself killed or captured.

"Non-Stop" is a step in the right direction for action star Liam Neeson, who has been spending recent years acting in B-list action movies. Neeson gives an emotional performance that tugs at the hearts of viewers, captivating them with his believably distraught character. Neeson is known for his standout performances in films such as "Batman Begins," "Schindler's List" and "Unknown," but his acting in "Non-Stop" is a step up for the already accomplished actor. Other well-known actors, including Lupita Nyong'o, Julianne Moore and Corey Stoll, deliver their own superb performances in the film, creating characters that blend together to create a story that is as nerve-wracking as it is genuine.

The plot itself is perfectly formulated to make every twist and turn believable. Neeson's disgruntled character is disillusioned and angry, so he easily fits the profile of an air marshal gone bad. The reactions of the passengers and the fact that several brave souls step out to help create a realistic environment for the events to take place. It is clear that the filmmakers have gone to great lengths to create a cinematic world that draws in viewers with no distractions.

One of the most interesting aspects of this film is the way it interacts with the audience. Throughout the film, viewers are constantly trying to guess which of the 147 passengers is the killer. The talented director and writers have not made it easy, especially with a wide array of unique characters close to Bill Marks who are probable suspects. This turns the film into a live-action guessing game for audiences, but the impending mystery never stops to distract viewers from the plot.

"Non-Stop" is an exciting film that entertains and engages audiences without a second to spare. This film also proves that a good thriller does not need to overuse blood, gore and foul language to thrill the audience, beautifully accomplishing its goal of action, suspense and fearfulness under a PG-13 rating. Featuring great acting, a well-paced plot and plenty of thrills, "Non-Stop" stands to compete as one of the best action movies of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5