Liam Neeson truly has a grasp on the action drama genre and in a way he could be called the Clint Eastwood of our time. Now granted, his movies are not of the same quality as Eastwood's old action films, but in terms of performances Neeson is always consistent. He has a penchant for playing a tough,grizzled ex-solider or cop with a troubled past, and that trend continues once more in this. His films as of late always have a promising premise but usually lose that allure as the film progresses. That is again the case in Non-Stop as it maintains a high amount of tension throughout up until the final act. It is a bit disappointing but Liam Neeson makes it still watchable.
The plot follows an alcoholic air marshal named Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) who boards a non-stop flight from New York to London. He takes the aisle seat while a woman, Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), comes and asks to sit next to him as she prefers to sit in the seat next to the window. It is a peaceful flight until Bill receives a horrifying text message over his secure network phone that declares a man on the plane with murder someone on it every twenty minutes until he is wired one hundred and fifty million dollars. Skeptical at first, he checks with his fellow air marshal on board, Hammond (Anson Mount), but he proves that he was not the one sending the text message. This sends Bill into a spiraling descent into paranoia filled with violence that makes the others around him begin to think that he had broke and lost the will to live, making him into a terrorist.
It truly is a compelling premise that builds plenty of tension and drama throughout the first two acts but sadly the third act just does not hold up in the same way. Instead it falls into trying to make a political statement about our very own security within the United State, and how our security is simply a lie and an illusion we tell ourselves. It comes off a bit heavy handed and didn't land well. Due to this, the film also ended a bit quickly without allowing any of the implications to really fall through. Bill went from being perceived as a terrorist to being a hero in almost an instant and it felt like the film was hurrying to the credits after the climax.
The film did still get solid performance, albeit not great, out of it's two lead stars Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. Where as Neeson was the tough and rugged while somewhat unstable enforcer, Moore's character provided heart frequently while also still having an air of suspicion around her character that added to the film's suspense and kept the audience on their toes. The rest of the cast was filled out by cardboard cut out characters that were necessary to round out the plot but the actors did nothing to really stand out in their roles.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra had previously worked with Liam Neeson on the film Unknown, which oddly enough had some of the same problems. Both films had a solid premise that quickly fell apart on itself in it's final act. However, Jaume Collet-Serra does succeed at filming intense and realistic hand to hand fight scenes, which there are plenty of in this film, and each one of them are incredible too watch. He and the screenwriter also did a good job of keeping the audience guessing as to who the villain was throughout up until the final act, which is more and more of a rarity this day and age.
Overall, it was an entertaining film, but not something I recommend going to see at the theaters. It has plenty of tension and drama mixed with some very well done fight scenes but the final act is incredibly frustrating. The pacing of the film even hits a snag midway through the second act as things spiral further out of Bill's control making everyone want to gang up against him. It didn't make much sense from a logical sense and seemed to only increase the running time of the film. However, if you are a Liam Neeson fan, then you surely will enjoy this film but sadly it is not Taken 3 (on a Plane).