‘Non-Stop’ Movie Review – Stop
Liam Neeson: the ass-kicker, has become almost an archetype or a brand. He became a household name with his portrayal of Oskar Schindler way back in 1993, but lately he’s morphed into a pure action star. This led to his role in Taken and the subsequent sequel, Taken 2. While I appreciate these movies for certain reasons, they seem to lack substance, instead going for thrills. His latest actioner Non-Stop falls into the same category – thrilling, but without much depth. Of course, this probably sparks the same ol’ debate: is that necessarily a bad thing?
Non-Stop takes place almost exclusively on an international flight from New York to London. The conflict involves an embattled air marshal, Bill Marks (Neeson), and his struggle to keep the 150 passengers and crew safe when a threat emerges. This threat calls into question both Marks and some higher issues (more on this later).
Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) uses a script packed-full of red herrings and distractors in an attempt to keep the audience entertained and on their toes. If – a big “if” I understand – you are okay with being toyed with, Non-Stop isn’t too bad. Thrillers generally need audiences to be okay with this idea, so it’s not a huge stretch to think people are okay suspending a little disbelief.
However, also like most thrillers, there is a certain point where things just get a little too ridiculous. Some of the side characters (played by actors Julianne Moore, Corey Stoll, Scoot McNairy, Anson Mount) are given little to do and stretched thin from there.
The most despicable part, though, was the hidden agenda, or higher issues, the movie added in when the movie came to a head. I can look past the action tropes, the over-cheesed moments (okay, maybe I can’t), but the motivation behind the characters wasn’t just insensible, but wrought with major thematic issues.
There comes a point where it feels a little, yes, ridiculous, to even question action movies. When judging a film, it is usually a good idea (even if perhaps impossible) to think of the filmmaker’s intent. In the case of Non-Stop, I don’t think the film was trying to make a huge sweeping statement about geopolitics and global terrorism (or was it?). However, this is the very “substance” you’d think I’d want from a film that seems gutless.
So, again we’re back to where I started – the film just doesn’t work.
“Gutless” doesn’t mean the film isn’t entertaining, though. Neeson is a popular action star because he’s good at it. If he wasn’t, people wouldn’t try to replicate his work in Taken, right? His work in Non-Stop is no less exciting and badass, keeping the pace and action going when it desperately needed something.
As a filmgoer, I’ll always take substance over entertainment because the core of the film should be the entertainment. You’ll rarely (if ever) find a movie with a good central core that isn’t entertaining. Everyone finds different things entertaining, but it’s not exactly a bold statement to think a movie needs a good story.
Yet…movies like Non-Stop continue to come out seemingly week after week.
You can see Non-Stop today in theaters nationwide!
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