dir Jaume Collet-Serra
scr John W Richardson, Chris Roach, Ryan Engle
prd Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona, Joel Silver
with Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Nate Parker, Corey Stoll, Omar Metwally, Lupita Nyong'o, Linus Roache, Jason Butler Harner, Shea Whigham, Anson Mount
release US/UK 28.Feb.14
14/US Universal 1h49
Chaos in the sky: Neeson and Dockery

moore mcnairy parker
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Non-Stop You've got to love a movie that goes for broke even though the plot is running on fumes from the first scene. Yes, this boneheaded thriller manages to entertain us simply because it never flinches. Expertly assembled, it's also packed with actors who know how to deliver preposterous dialog with wonderfully straight faces.

Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) picked a bad day to end his sobriety. Sipping whiskey as he boards a trans-Atlantic flight, he settles in for a quiet trip when he gets a text message demanding vast sums of cash or someone will die every 20 minutes. As things descend into surreal violence, everyone on the plane begins to look suspicious, including the only two people he trusts: flight attendant Nancy (Dockery) and passenger Jen (Moore). And as reports emerge that Bill has gone rogue, they don't trust him either.

The film is a riot of wary glances as everyone tries to discover the truth in an increasingly crazed situation. Indeed, the premise gets more implausible by the second, giving us little option beyond hanging on for the ride. And it's so slickly put together that it actually holds our interest: an energetic cat and mouse game in which we can't quite identify the cat.

The actors add vivid shades to their characters. Neeson doesn't have to try too hard, since we know from the opening shot that he's a haunted man struggling to maintain his grip on reality. Moore is terrific as his too-nosey seat-mate (her best moment is when she echoes another role, snapping, "Did you just call me ma'am?"), Dockery is hilariously concerned and tetchy, and the passengers are all short-tempered and a bit moronic, just like everyone you've ever sat next to on a plane.

There are so many clues and red herrings that we barely have time to wonder how someone could get on-board a plane with a briefcase of cocaine. Or a bomb for that matter. Nothing quite makes sense, but that only adds to the amusingly disorienting tone, generating suspense even as it gets sillier. There are also helpful lessons in, for example, how to disable a lavatory smoke alarm. But best of all is the utter chaos it promises on flights with full internet and phone access.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 29.Jan.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall