A protagonist (Liam Neeson) with a drinking problem, estranged from his wife and mourning over the death of his daughter and trying to overcome other such unpleasant memories is in the midst of a flight, wherein a random caller threatens him to arrange for a huge sum of cash lest he will blow up the plane. A standard one liner premise for an action film which sounds rather exciting. So does it make for a good film? Maybe not.
Non Stop centers around a US federal Air Marshall (doesn’t that sound designation sound uber cool? ) played by Liam Neeson who as mentioned earlier is mourning over the death of his daughter and is also separated from his wife. During the course of duty aboard a New York London flight, Neeson receives a call from a stranger asking him to cough 150 million dollars or else he threatens to kills all the passengers. Thus begins Neeson’s journey to uncover the truth and in true Hollywood fashion save the day before it’s too late.
Every genre of films has their own set of standard plot lines, clichés which would be present in every other film belonging to that particular genre. So is the case with action films and hostage dramas. How to deal with those clichés is something which is entirely dependent upon the director and the writers of the film amongst others. There are clichés present in Non Stop as well like the suspicious passengers, red herrings strewn throughout the plot, cheesy one liners, implausible situations and solutions arrived for the same amongst others. The film starts out well with Neeson being shown wary of interacting people and observing them in a rather intrusive and an uncomfortable way as he waits to aboard his flight. Unfortunately director Jaume Collet Sara and the writers are not able to play out the clichés well and as the film progresses it becomes a monotonous watch. The dialogues, acting etc appears tired and forced making the film appear dull and monotonous in its entirety.
The film portrays most of the key characters aboard the flight as prime suspects such as the Muslim doctor (Omar Metwally), a cop (Corey Stoll), a geeky co-passenger (Scott McNairy) amongst others and Neeson’s character and the audiences approach them with a sense of doubt and suspicion which is appreciable, since that helps you in keeping the audiences guessing till the identity of the culprit is revealed. At a few places, the director also tries to show the plight of the Muslim doctor who is suspected by all other passengers to be the culprit. This is an issue which lot of Muslims globally have been facing and something which has been on the rise post 9/11. However the film only takes a rather surface level look at all such issues and subplots. As a result of which you are never really drawn or hooked onto the proceedings.
Similar was the problem with Neeson and Sara’s previous collaboration – Unknown, a film that dealt with the topic of stolen identities. Unknown and Non Stop both had a couple of good ideas with regards to the plot, which it tries to set it up well. Ultimately it just is not able to give a proper culmination to the story thereby resulting in a very underwhelming film in the process.
Why does Neeson and the film choose to trust the air hostesses (Michelle Dockery, Lupita Nyong’O) and his female co-passenger (Julianne Moore) blindly was a serious matter of concern for me. However, I must admit that the identity of the bad guy(s) did come as slight surprise to me but when they reveal their intentions to Neeson behind their act is what proves to be perhaps the biggest undoing of the film.
Ultimately it is left to Neeson to salvage the show. Aided by a superb baritone and a great screen presence, Neeson tries his best to make the proceedings plausible, but he can’t do really much beyond a point to salvage a rather mediocre film. It is amazing that even at the age of 61, he manages to perform heavy duty actions scenes very convincingly. And can easily give the current crop of action heroes a run for his money. However one sincerely wishes to see him in something more substantial than most of the recent films he has acted in. Julianne Moore’s presence in the film is annoying and hardly adds any value to the film apart from being the customary female lead.
If you appreciated Lupita Nyongo’s performance in 12 Years A Slave, be ready to be disappointed with her acting in this film. In the role of an airhostess, she hardly gets any scope to perform and is present only in a handful of scenes. Similarly Michelle Dockery as an airhostess and the rest of the cast give rather insipid performances.
Non Stop could have been a silly yet enjoyable action fare. However it only ends being silly and a rather underwhelming action flick thanks to an overload of silly situations, clichés, lazy monotonous writing amongst other such things. It is one of those films where in the actors partake in a project perhaps for a fat paycheque. If you are anyways eager to watch the film, wait for the DVD to arrive. Spend your time and money on better films which maybe playing in the cinema halls .