Movie Review: 'Non-Stop' (2014)

Liam Neeson’s latest thriller is a plane ride of excitement that plays as a Hitchcockian style psychological thriller. The mystery and the intrigue in"Non-Stop" is palatable, striking closing to home with recent events in a spellbinding study of suspicion. Neeson plays an air marshal assigned to protect a transatlantic flight. After take-off he starts receiving text messages threatening passengers and demanding a sum of money to stop.

What comes next is a claustrophobic, tour de force in which every character is put under intense scrutiny, including the lead and preconceived notions begin playing their role in a cat-and-mouse game of intrigue.

In the case of other films that have focused on mysteries, the overall story can sometimes be hampered by an overabundance of red herrings and thankfully, “Non-Stop” avoids this pitfall. Instead, it plays everyone off as the exact opposite of suspects.

They are ordinary and relatable often kind people caught up in a high-pressure situation and everybody’s “bad” side is bound to break loose. This is a much more realistic approach than the typical darting looks of a nervous onlooker or the person who was overly nice suddenly exhibiting strange behavior, soon being cast in a suspicious light.

The psychological aspects of being stuck in a tight space together and how a diverse range of people, interact with each other plays as an interesting character study. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill thriller as it is constantly posing questions, effectively putting viewers into the seats alongside the passengers by engaging them in a scenario that sadly feels, all too possible, and asks what you would do.

As he did behind the lens of 2009’s gripping “Orphan”, director Jaume Collet-Serra ratchets up the tension in a slow build as things escalate and flaring tempers are pushed to their breaking points.

In his second collaboration with Liam Neeson (“Unknown” being the other), Collet-Serra zeroes in on why Neeson is such an exceptional leading actor. He is strong, unwavering and passionate with a gruffness that camouflages a compassionate heart.

He gives viewers something to root for before we have all of the reasons why we should; evoking a leap of faith that he is always a good guy. Not since, the spectacular “The Grey” has Neeson been given a chance to show his acting range, reminding viewers he’s a thespian first and action hero second. 

In co-star Julianne Moore, he finds a screen partner to crackle alongside; Moore bringing her gift for sharp comedic wit and in the next scene, a deft hand of drama. The entire supporting cast all do an incredible job bringing dimension to their roles in a fashion that makes them feel incredibly authentic. It’s the best ensemble so far this year with performances that share a knack for dynamic depth.

“Non-Stop” is an effective thriller that sprinkles in the appropriate amount of situational comedy, remaining a vigorous drama at its core. It’s one of those rare films that truly knows what it is doing and deftly goes about executing it in a rhythmic fashion that never veers off its flight plan. Rating: 8/10

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