Craggy old Liam Neeson does it tough in the movies these days, doesn’t he?
Invariably widowed or divorced, in this case, Non Stop, as US Air Marshal Bill Marks, the poor bugger has also lost an eight-year-old daughter to leukemia and, still devastated, has developed a penchant for hard liquor.
He is one of the army of plainclothes security guards that the US government has employed since 9/11 to keep the airways safe for travellers, though whether the rest of them get a seat in first class is doubtful at best.
Sipping on a gin and tonic with a lovely stranger (Julianne Moore) sitting next to him, everything looks hunky dory on just another New York–London flight – notwithstanding the harried look on Liam’s dial.
Sure enough… he gets a text from a mystery passenger who threatens to kill somebody in twenty minutes if money is not deposited into an account that he has supplied.
Early indicators suggest that we might be heading into Snakes on a Plane territory (I’d love to see that again, just for its glorious idiocy) as Liam is led to the end of his tether by a conspirator who is always one step ahead of him.
His manic attempts to find the villain result in Liam’s being considered a terrorist by the air force and everybody else on the plane – except for Julianne and the beautiful stewardess (Michelle Dockery, who appears weirdly out of place after her spellbinding presence at Downton Abbey).
There are the usual number of suspects – the only one of whom you know it can’t be is the Muslim doctor, for that would be too obvious… unless the writers intend applying Maxwell Smart’s ‘old reverse psychology trick’.
The plot is convoluted and the declamatory dialogue at times awful, but the tension is well constructed and Neeson, Moore and Dockery, aided by an excellent support cast – Corey Stoll notably so as an off-duty NYPD officer – are untroubled in holding the story together as it hurtles towards its fantastic climax.
~ John Campbell