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Non Stop (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 105 minutes.

OK for children.

The first part of the year constitutes slim pickings for movie fans. The industry lumps all the films it expects to be good into end of the year releases so that they will be fresh in mind for Oscarģ voters. The result is that when the new year starts there really arenít very many good movies released.

Liam Neeson discovered a good thing a few years back when he came out with the first Taken film during the first two months of the year. It was a huge hit. He followed that up almost each year thereafter with more entertaining thrillers released at the same time of the year and now it is something we have come to rely upon.

Non-Stop fits nicely into the new Neeson genre. Itís a thriller you donít want to spend too much time thinking about because some of the plot holes could tend to ruin the entertainment. Neeson plays a flawed Air Marshal, Bill Marks, a drunk who finds himself on a plane with an unknown assailant who puts the plane and all its passengers in danger as he affects the murders of several, and as the film progresses Marks gets into more and more trouble.

The story is by John Richardson & Chris Roach, who wrote the screenplay, their first to be made into a film. Apparently their version wasnít good enough, however, because Ryan Engle, another rookie, also gets a credit and heís not a part of the Richardson/Roach team. Itís still got some weaknesses, though. The first killing is predicted by the killer but the way it happens couldnít possibly have been caused, or even predicted, by the killer. But it still happens precisely on the timetable he predicts. This requires the viewer to totally suspend all common sense. The other killings are explained in a way that can be traced directly to the killer. Itís just the first one that strains credulity to the breaking point.

Fortunately Neeson is reunited with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed Neesonís last winterĖspring thriller, Unknown. They are joined by composer John Ottman, another participant from Unknown. TensionĖenhancing music is essential to a thriller like this, and Ottman comes through in spades.

Collet-Serra gets good performances out of his mostly unknown cast, especially Michelle Dockery as Nancy, a stewardess who knows Marks but begins to doubt. Marks finds himself all alone battling huge odds with everyone against him.

The movie has an enormous plot hole when it ends, as Marks has explained some science that might or might not be factually accurate, but if you want to enjoy the movie you have to go along with it. Shortly thereafter, something doesnít happen that would occur if the science Marks told everyone about were true. Most people probably wonít even think about it. I did, but it didnít spoil the movie for me, just got me thinking. I canít tell you what it is because it would be a horrible spoiler. If you can accept nonsense like Spiderman, Batman, and Superman as realistic characters, though, this plot hole shouldnít bother you.