00:00 March 02, 2014
By: David Vicari

** out of ****

I was with Non-Stop for its first 45 minutes or so, even with its mounting implausibilities. Eventually, though, the movies goes off the deep end never to return. Suspension of disbelief is hard to do when any and all logic is flung out of the jetliner window.

All the elements are here for a good movie. Liam Neeson plays air marshal Bill Marks. He's an alcoholic and has past demons still eating away at him. On a seemingly routine transatlantic flight, Marks begins receiving texts stating that a person on that plane will die every 20 minutes unless ransom demands are met. It's up to Marks to find the culprit and save the lives of everyone on the jetliner.

I wanted to like Non-Stop, really. Neeson delivers a fine performance, and he has good support from Julianne Moore as a some-what mysterious passenger, and Downtown Abbey's Michelle Dockery as a stewardess.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra almost saves the film from itself. This is the guy who helped make movies like House of Wax (2005) and Orphan (2009) much better than they had the right to be, so he's a very capable filmmaker. During the first half hour of Non-Stop, Collet-Serra creates some terrific tension. However, the screenplay, credited to three writers, fails him as it gets sillier and sillier as it goes along. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, especially the plane crashing finale when Neeson and Moore are holding on to a little girl afraid of flying from being sucked out the jet window. This concluding action scene looked like something out of The Concorde...Airport '79 (1979), and that's not a good thing.

And the explanation of why the villain is doing what he's doing is kind of grotesque, especially for a simple popcorn movie. Using real life tragedies to fuel a dumb action film is often offensive, as it is here.

Non-Stop should have been much smarter...and more plausible.

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