“Non-Stop” will be released theatrically starting Friday, February 28.
On an international flight to London, a federal air marshal named Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is just trying to keep it together after obviously going through some pretty heavy stuff. However Bill begins receiving a series of texts from an unknown individual promising to kill someone every 20 minutes until $150 million is transferred to a specific account. But things get even more complicated in Bill’s investigation as more and more evidence begins to point to him being the prime suspect. Is Bill actually trying to hijack the aircraft or is someone else pulling the strings?
Saying Bill Marks is a grizzled man is a bit of an understatement. The blurry opening of “Non-Stop” reveals a scraggly Liam Neeson with sloppy hair and a scruffy beard. Bill looks like he’s pulled six all-nighters in a row as he takes another swig of liquid courage from a coffee mug in his attempt to drown out the world around him. You also notice him admiring couples and seemingly hating technology; cell phones in particular. He glares at cell phones with such discontent that you can’t help but think that about the character. After retrieving the bear of a little girl flying solo for the first time and revealing his fear of flying to the peculiar woman sitting next to him named Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), Bill makes his way to the restroom, slaps duct tape over the smoke detector, lays his weapon and everything in his pockets neatly on the table, and calms his nerves with some nicotine. It’s at this point where it’s revealed Bill is actually an air marshal. You have to plow through the film to hear the rest of Bill’s story, but in actuality it’s all a gigantic waste of time.
Things don’t really get too ridiculous until Austin Reilly (Corey Stoll), a passenger who is also an NYPD officer, opens his mouth. Not only is he the epitome of New York stereotypes, but he also shares the key scene in which the action thriller takes a turn for the worst. Reilly says something along the lines of, “What are you gonna do?” Bill, with his gun crammed in Reilly’s neck, replies, “From one cop to another, you know.” What’s disappointing is that even the action scenes aren’t impressive. There’s a fist fight in the bathroom that is the closest thing to anything remotely rewarding in the film, but you honestly just find yourself trying to choke back jokes regarding Liam Neeson joining the mile high club. On a slight upside, the way the film utilizes a broken phone into the texts that are shown on-screen is slightly amusing.
The rest of the time is just devoted to Liam Neeson defying logic and saving the day solely because he’s Liam Neeson. He leaves a trail of dead bodies on an airplane and none of the other passengers ever find any of the victims or stumble onto them. A good portion of the passengers left alive are beaten to a pulp thanks to Bill as he slams them around the plane and resorts to beating a teacher and a lawyer before suspecting the few people left who still trust him. He shoves Tom Bowen (Scott McNairy) around the plane with his arm pinned to his back and seems to use the poor guy as a ventriloquist dummy. The climax takes ludricousness to an entirely new level. It culminates with Neeson firing his weapon and hitting its mark in zero gravity in slow-motion with a plane missing half of its exterior as it dives to 8,000 feet.
“Non-Stop” is unbelievably bad, which is really unfortunate since Liam Neeson is perfectly capable of delivering the goods. When crashing the plane is the only answer to a hijacked plane, when piling all of your luggage onto a bomb is the only solution, and when a heart condition is used to explain why someone likes the window seat, then “Non-Stop” is the answer. Now if the theme song to “Team America: World Police” had just played over the end credits, then this might have been somewhat worthwhile. What you’re left with is a film that is reminiscent of “Transporter 2,” which is an action film everyone is very satisfied forgetting it actually exists.