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Film Review: ‘Non-Stop’

Kathy Zerbib |
March 2, 2014 | 6:49 p.m. PST

Film Editor

In “Non-Stop,” Liam Neeson is suspect number one (Universal Pictures).
In “Non-Stop,” Liam Neeson is suspect number one (Universal Pictures).

Get ready for the ultimate game of Guess Who. Liam Neeson stars in “Non-Stop,” a mystery-thriller that keeps you guessing til the very end.

Neeson plays Bill Marks, a U.S. federal air marshal with a drinking problem. This bad boy hates flying - pretty ironic - and sneaks cigarette breaks in airplane bathrooms. 

It’s business as usual for Marks, who is riding aboard a flight travelling from New York to London. Everything seems fine until the air marshal’s secure government phone receives texts from a mysterious number. Someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes, the unknown person says, unless $150 million is wired into a certain bank account. 

The plot thickens when Marks is told by his supervisors on the ground that the bank account is in his name. Suddenly, Marks is suspected of hijacking the plane and holding hostages for ransom. 

READ MORE: Film Review: 'The LEGO Movie'

But is Marks really responsible? Who else could be behind the sinister texts? 

Could it be Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), Marks’ seatmate who fought for a window seat? Maybe it’s Zack White (Nate Parker), the cell phone programmer who repeatedly annoyed Marks since the airport? Or is it Glen Lloyd (Lupita Nyong’o), one of the flight attendants?

Really, everyone onboard is a suspect… And Marks’ manhunt is a suspenseful race against time.

Yes, this movie seems a bit like “Taken” meets “Flightplan” (Remember Jodie Foster in that blast-from-the-past, 2005 flick?). However, before giving “Non-Stop” a meh label, consider this.

Neeson has proven he can own that “part agent/part badass” role and he reinforces it with “Non-Stop.” Maybe it’s the seriousness. We’re sold on Neeson’s character and, at some points, we second guess whether or not Marks is actually innocent.

READ MORE: Film Review: 'The Grey'

This film is literally a non-stop thriller. Who is going to die next? Where are these texts coming from? We’re on the edge of our seat, just waiting to see what’s next. For that, “Non-Stop” lives up to its promises of action and suspense.

Surprisingly, there are also some moments of comedic relief. Watch for the crucial one-liners that help cut the tension throughout the story.

While the thriller does contain a few snoozer points, the movie - for the most part - doesn’t drag on. The constant plot twists help keep us entertained, though some seem a bit superfluous. 

If you watch “Non-Stop” and analyze every character’s face frame by frame, you still won’t be able to tell who the culprit is. Kudos to the actors for maintaining the mystery up until the very end. It’s almost like the actors weren’t told which of them is the mastermind until it was time to shoot the last scene… Almost.

“Non-Stop” is a pleasant surprise that exceeds (admittedly) low expectations. This isn’t the movie of the year, but it’s definitely the box-office winner of the weekend.

Watch the trailer below.

Reach Film Editor Kathy Zerbib here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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