It's a bad day at the office for an air marshal with a killer on his flight
If flying already makes you jittery then Non-Stop is not the movie for you. Before Air Marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) even makes it on the plane, we sense he has a deeply troubled past that will likely compromise his abilities to protect and serve. What that murky history involves is revealed as the movie progresses. We also know that any man who needs a drink before he goes to work might not be on the top of his game.
However someone on this trans-Atlantic flight is playing a game—a deadly game that threatens the lives of every passenger on board.
The first move comes when Bill receives a text on his secure network from an unidentified sender. The message warns that someone on the aircraft will be killed every 20 minutes unless the sum of $150 million is deposited in an off shore account. Twenty minutes later one man is dead and Bill gets a text to reset the time on his watch.
With no place to land, the minutes tick away and anxieties rise as the death count grows. The air marshal tries to maintain calm on board but this is not a man who inspires a lot of confidence. He blatantly disregards rules by smoking in the bathroom. He has a haggard look that makes one suspect he hasn’t slept in weeks. And he only maintains control of the situation with blunt, brute force. So it’s no surprise that his credibility hits rock bottom when the passengers discover the account designated to receive the money is in Bill’s name.
Flying at 40,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the movie plays off the suffocating sense of confinement that Hitchcock employed in his movies Lifeboat and Rear Window. But this screenplay also uses technology as an added element to keep the identity of the killer secret. Unfortunately that means the audience has to read large chunks of the script that show up as text bubbles on the screen.
Like the 1970s disaster movie Airport that also had a bomber aboard, this international flight has a large cast of characters. We don’t get back-stories on many of the flyers. Yet that doesn’t stop filmmakers from casting suspicion on as many as possible the story unfolds, including Bill’s seatmate Jen Summers (Julianne Moore). Determining whom he can trust becomes an issue for this air marshal. However Bill isn’t a man of subtle actions and with limited minutes between killings he isn’t opposed to violently beating confessions out of suspects. This results in several savage assaults that lead to death or bloody bodily injuries.
In the end Non-Stop makes your worst day at the office look like a breeze. This is a story where everything that could possibly go wrong does just that—often to the point of absurdity. Still, if you are willing to relinquish any need for plot plausibility, Non-Stop is a mindless action flick that warrants the biggest bag of popcorn your theater offers.