Now suffering the consequences of failed movie-memory relived, I’ll spend some time doing something I don’t typically like to do review-wise… talk about a film that I didn’t like. So riddle me this modern-day Hollywood: How am I supposed to believe a movie about a sort-of air/cop, his inevitable love-interest, their thwarting “terrorist” of a nemesis, and some passengers turned hostages on a plane when I literally can’t even believe the very plane itself (the setting) that said movie takes place on? Okay maybe this is indeed a bit of an exaggeration, a loaded question as all I’m really doing is slyly segueing myself into blood-thirstily railing against the new enough Liam Neeson-starring actioner, Non-Stop.
Yes, beyond the film’s lackluster use of cheap CGI that apparently decreases in quality as the movie’s own plot flies along, Non-Stop simulates the equivalent of bargain-bin cheese taking a respectfully B-movie world and downgrading such entertaining standards to a capital ‘D’ level of shame. Paycheck acting and convoluted plotting combined with a flaky screenplay and that ever-so-present glossy artificial stench that comes sleekly aligned to all the edges of so many current action films’ visuals nowadays, all of these elements make Non-Stop a pointblank bad film (and not even a “so bad it’s good” one at that). In fact, what hurts the most is that I’m not even sure how I fooled myself into thinking the movie would actually amount to anything better. Upon exiting the cinema, I swear I heard my own brain bragging and fisting my skull, saying “I told you so!” As the film commenced, my buddy leaned over to me and contently stated: “I really like airplane movies.” I know what he was referring to, and by all means, I do too. Airplane already bears the mark of “classic,” but for me, I’d delve even further and add films like Passenger 57, Executive Decision, Air Force One- Heck, remember Turbulence starring Ray Liotta doing his best Jack Nicholson à la The Shining? Even that film, similar to all the other titles I just name-dropped, possesses a certain amount of unshakable charm that refuses to go down with the times.
Au contraire, Non-Stop has about as much charm as a Silicon Valley nine-to-fiver number-crunching his or her way across the assembly-line/cooperate totem-pole hunkered down and confined to a late-night cubicle. Only someone going through the motions, a checklist of sorts, would meticulously make sure to copy so many pivotal scenes from far more successful action/confinement-thrillers as a means to ensure that Non-Stop’s procedural structure ultimately snags that coveted Hollywood green-light. Landing current action-star “soup of the day” Liam Neeson (and don’t get me wrong, I am a fan) I’m sure only secured Non-Stop’s fast-track to production regardless of whatever state the script was in. Unfortunately that state seems to represent an apparent hodgepodge of so many better, well-crafted films. Take the scene in which Colin Farrel breaks down and confesses to his damaged roots in Phonebooth, throw in the now infamous line from Speed, “There’s a bomb on this bus!” and substitute the word bus with plane — The slapdash gimmickry at play in Non-Stop is yawn-inducing. Hey, you know how I know Liam Neeson’s character is damaged goods? Because the film opens on a slow-motion shot of Neeson’s hand pouring whiskey into his coffee as if to make sure we painstakingly understand the scene’s implications. Now I’m all for gratuitous drinking montages serving as symbolic windows into a sin-filled character backstory (Man on Fire) but the way it’s handled in Non-Stop feels condescending and cheap, and certainly doesn’t even come close to what Tony Scott was able to conjure and execute when dabbling with debatable B-movie material.
Well I think I’ve really said all I need to say when it comes to describing how much I didn’t like this film, even when I was prepared to just accept it for what it is and have fun with it. Actually, the only reason I saw this film in the first place was really to spend some time with a good friend whom I don’t typically see that often… I guess you could say watching Non-Stop was kind of like a community-service watch. Just put in the time and you’ll get thought it — No delays (hopefully).
Watch the Non-Stop Trailer