Saturday, April 19, 2014

Non-Stop

Liam Neeson has quietly emerged as one of the pre-eminent action stars of  the last five years (since about Taken), which is just one of those thing I observe every single time he comes out with one of these movies.

This is the best of the five action movies he's made in the past five years, I'd say, with the possible exception of Taken.

What?

Some sort of controversy?

All right, I'll get to that.

The story is that Neeson, a Federal Air Marshall who's on the edge, man, finds himself on a plane with a terrorist who is one step ahead of him at every step. The opening sequences are great paranoid cat-and-mouse suspense thriller, and Neeson gets deeper and deeper in the muck with every new corpse that turns up.

It's clever, it's entertaining, and it has good emotional depth. (It's also preposterous, of course.) It still wound me up enough to where I was wondering whether Neeson was hallucinating about everything. That, of course, would've been awful, but it was a cool thing to tease.

Of course, it's Liam Neeson, so he's great at eliciting empathy.

Of course, when you get such a masterful set up, the problem comes in delivering an equally impressive villain. And there aren't a lot of choices. Basically, your choices are evil mastermind or ex-military.

Well, judging by the reaction, a lot of people really didn't like how it worked out. And I can see that: It was a clumsily inserted bit of inanity that couldn't decide whether to go Hans Gruber or Magneto.

Honestly, it didn't bother me much. I had already accepted the lax airplane standards. Plus, I lived through the '80s. And the movie is solid up to that point—and after that point, too. Really! The ending is solid.

Still I only buy two or three tickets tops for a flick, and if they pissed off the people who are most likely to go to see this film, maybe they'll think it through next time.

Neeson is, as always, up to the task. Julianne Moore does a good job as the passenger who might just be in on the whole thing!!

Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (of the less effective Neeson thriller Unknown and the excellent horror flick Orphan) does a really fine job with the action. But I don't think we're getting a "Non-Stop" franchise.

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