Quantcast
Channel: Good Efficient Butchery
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

In Theaters: NON-STOP (2014)

0
0

NON-STOP
(US/France/UK - 2014)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.  Written by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach, and Ryan Engle.  Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Linus Roache, Anson Mount, Shea Whigham, Lupita Nyong'o, Omar Metwally, Jason Butler Harner, Frank Deal, Corey Hawkins, Jon Abrahams. (PG-13, 106 mins)

No one expected 2009's TAKEN to turn the now-61-year-old Liam Neeson into the modern-day Charles Bronson and an icon of AARP asskickers (how is he not in EXPENDABLES 3?), but he's carved a niche for himself at a time when most actors his age are settling into character parts and elder statesman roles.  Sometimes, as in the case of Neeson and Kevin Costner, star of last week's 3 DAYS TO KILL, which looks and feels like it was written for Neeson, a good actor can dabble in both.  Neeson's latest is NON-STOP, and a cursory glance at the poster art and the trailer might suggest it's TAKEN ON A PLANE but that's an incorrect assumption.  True, it probably wouldn't exist had TAKEN never happened, but in the hands of underrated director Jaume Collet-Serra, it plays a lot like a Hitchcockian "wrong man" situation in the era of post-9/11 security and technology.  Collet-Serra, a former music video director, has turned into a solid suspense craftsman after an inauspicious debut with the 2005 remake of HOUSE OF WAX, where he was saddled with the then-ubiquitous Paris Hilton in co-starring role.  But even in retrospect, HOUSE OF WAX shows a method to Collet-Serra's madness:  as a filmmaker, he's rooted in the classics, even if HOUSE OF WAX was a dumb remake of a beloved horror film (1953's HOUSE OF WAX, itself a remake of 1933's THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM).  After the barely-seen soccer sequel GOAL II: LIVING THE DREAM (2007), Collet-Serra established his bona fides with 2009's ORPHAN, a BAD SEED-inspired thriller with a deliriously gonzo plot twist that has to be seen to be believed, and 2011's UNKNOWN, his first teaming with Neeson, where the star found himself in the middle of another classic old-school suspense thriller standard:  a man waking up from an accident to find that those closest to him have no idea who he is and that he's being pursued by killers for reasons he doesn't know or can't remember.


NEESON!
Like TAKEN's absent-dad-trying-to-make-good Bryan Mills and THE GREY's suicidal John Ottway, NON-STOP's Bill Marks is another flawed Neeson hero with a certain amount of baggage.  Marks is a Federal Air Marshal with alcohol and money problems.  Of course, his wife and kid are out of the picture and all he's got is his job and he's barely holding on to that.  Haggard and bleary-eyed, Marks boards his latest assignment, a flight from New York to London that's so routine that he thinks nothing of downing a shot beforehand, keeping a flask in his jacket pocket, attempting to order a gin & tonic from flight attendant Nancy (DOWNTON ABBEY's Michelle Dockery), who knows he's on the job and brings him water instead, and occasionally heading to the restroom to smoke.  It's business as usual until Marks gets a text from someone onboard the plane demanding $150 million or a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes.  The spoilers start pretty quickly, so to recount any more of the plot would do a disservice, but with each new development and each new corpse, it becomes clear to Marks--and only Marks--that someone among the passengers is trying to frame him and orchestrate this elaborate scenario as a hijacking by an angry, bitter, paranoid alcoholic who can't be trusted with the lives of innocent people.


NEESON!
There's little new or innovative here, but for a good chunk of its duration, NON-STOP is exactly that in terms of nail-biting suspense.  It's great fun watching an appropriately disheveled-looking Neeson grow increasingly desperate and angry when everyone--the pilot (Linus Roache), a second marshal (Anson Mount), his TSA boss on the ground (Shea Whigham), Jen (Julianne Moore), the woman sitting next to him, and even the sympathetic Nancy--dismisses the situation as Marks' imagination run wild or just presuming he's on yet another bender ("Really, Bill?  How many have you had today?").  When Collet-Serra focuses on these interactions--Marks' frazzled paranoia as he looks more guilty by the minute and loses the confidence of the flight crew (he's eventually denied access to the cockpit after the pilot demands his badge and gun), the increasingly irate passengers plotting to subdue Marks and take over the plane--NON-STOP is tremendously entertaining.  Of course, numerous passengers--a hot-headed, homophobic NYC cop (Corey Stoll), a software programmer (Nate Parker), a nerdy schoolteacher on his way to Amsterdam (Scoot McNairy), a Muslim doctor (Omar Metwally), Jen, who was peculiarly adamant about getting a window seat and was hesitant to discuss her career with Marks, and even the co-pilot (Jason Butler Harner), seen by Marks shiftily whispering to his secret girlfriend Nancy--are presented as possible villains, but all the evidence seems to point to Marks.   Things do grow more implausible, but when done right, that can be part of the fun. 


NEESON!
The plot turns and plot holes that abound late in NON-STOP are a bit too silly and nonsensical to overcome, but what really dampens the finale is the usual shitty CGI.  Again, it's difficult to discuss without spoiling the plot, but it's another case where something that should look spectacular looks like it was taken from a video game on short notice.  Admittedly, my complaining about cut-rate CGI is pretty much beating a dead horse at this point, but there's no reason for AIRPLANE! to have more convincing visual effects in 1980 than NON-STOP does today.  Even a scene on the runway is obviously done with a greenscreen.  Really?  You can't even drag the actors out to a runway and shoot it for real anymore?   Some say it doesn't matter, but when the artifice sticks out like a sore thumb in 2014, it does matter.  Or, if you can't do it for real, can you at least make it look convincing?  It can be done.  You'd be surprised how many streets and backgrounds and buildings in movies and TV are CGI or greenscreen effects.  But when time and care are put into it, you can't tell. The best CGI doesn't draw attention to itself.  I get that CGI is here to stay, but quit half-assing it.  When it stops taking me out of the movie, I'll stop bitching.  Until Collet-Serra basically steps aside to let the CGI team take over, NON-STOP is quintessential post-TAKEN Neeson, right down to the usual "particular set of skills" gravitas inherent in selling-point lines like "I'm not hijacking this plane...I'm trying to save it!" that sound awesome when said by Liam Neeson. It's not perfect, but it's Neeson, he's bellowing, and he's kicking the shit out of people.  Not even some subpar CGI can ruin that.

NEESON!









Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1212

Latest Images

Trending Articles





Latest Images