In Non-Stop, Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is an alcoholic federal air marshall who gets into a big mess on a flight from New York to London. He begins getting text messages from someone on the plane, threatening to kill a person on the plane every 20 minutes unless money is transferred to an account. Yes, it’s an implausible, likely impossible, setup for a story that gets stranger by the minute.
The steps you or I might take—such as disabling the plane’s onboard wi-fi—are dismissed. Of course, making such a move would prevent this caper from continuing. The result would be a very short movie.
Sounds like an “edge of the seat” nail-biter, no? Unfortunately, Non-Stop fails to generate the necessary tension to increase the pulse rate. A lengthy sequence of text message trading between Marks and the unseen culprit is downright boring. Non-Stop just isn’t in the same league as numerous well-known airplane tension/suspense flicks.
But as a mystery, Non-Stop has some redeeming qualities. It’s not exactly a “whodunit” but a “who’s doing it.”
As with many airplane crisis movies, the cast of passengers includes a number of possible suspects: a woman (Julianne Moore) who begs a guy to trade seats with her, a guy with a Middle Eastern look, an excitable NYC cop, among others. Even the crew is not above suspicion.
As the flight continues, some passengers develop reasons to believe that Marks himself is the perp.
Your enjoyment and appreciation of Non-Stop is likely to depend on how you feel about Liam Neeson as an action adventure guy. And how willing you are to buy into this film’s hard-to-swallow plot.
Lupita Nyong’o, who will probably win an Oscar Sunday night, has a small role in Non-Stop as a flight attendant. (As one guy tweeted, she’ll probably say more onstage Sunday night than she does in this film.) Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey fame plays flight attendant Nancy.