10 31 2014
  1:24 am  
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McMenamins
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Bill Marks’ (Liam Neeson) life went into a tailspin after his young daughter lost her battle with childhood leukemia. The inconsolable police officer has since sought solace in a bottle of alcohol, an addiction which cost him his marriage and career.

Today, the ex-cop is lucky to be employed as an air marshal, a job he decided to take despite a terrible fear of takeoffs. On this particular evening, he’s been assigned to protect a packed transatlantic flight from New York to London.

The trip starts out uneventfully enough, with Bill hiding his identity while making the acquaintance of the attractive passenger (Julianne Moore) sitting next to him. However, a crisis arises over the middle of the ocean soon after he receives a text from an anonymous caller claiming to be in the cabin and threatening to murder a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited into an offshore bank account.

Initially, he dismisses the message as a prank on the part of the only colleague (Anson Mount) aboard the plane, since a breach of the supposedly-impenetrable federal network is almost impossible and a criminal offense to boot. Nevertheless, once the first victim does indeed die, Bill realizes he has an urgent emergency on his hands.

Who might the hijacker be? The Muslim (Omar Metwally) sporting a skullcap? The trash-talking black teenager (Corey Hawkins) reluctant to surrender his cell phone? Somebody else? Of course, the actual perpetrator won’t be easy to pinpoint in this ever-escalating, deadly game of cat and mouse.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop is yet another adrenaline-fueled vehicle featuring Liam Neeson. The surprising success of Taken, has belatedly turned the rugged Irishman into an action star, as reflected in subsequent similar outings in The A-Team, Taken 2, Unknown, and the upcoming Run All Night.

Here, Neeson safely sticks close to the Taken formula, starting with his character’s name (Bill Marks as opposed to Bryan Mills) and his playing a broken soul in need of redemption. Again, he rises to the occasion in tough, two-fisted fashion, though also exhibiting a vulnerability certain to move you to tears during the closing credits.

Besides an engaging premise and a satisfying resolution, Non-Stop is blessed with an inscrutable plot which delicately ratchets up the tension as it winds its way towards an unpredictable denouement. Thus, the picture unfolds less like a mob scene disaster flick than a cleverly-concealed whodunit where everybody with a phone is a suspect.

Cells on a plane!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sensuality, profanity, intense violence and drug use

Running time: 106 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures

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