Non-Stop starts in slow motion and stays there

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Film Review Non-Stop

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Liam Neeson in a scene from "Non-Stop." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures)

UNCREDITED — ASSOCIATED PRESS

"Non-Stop" is an oxymoron. The definition of non-stop as an adjective is "continuing without stopping or pausing." While not the true definition, a lot of us view non-stop as being furious and fast-paced movement. The movie's title indicates forward motion. There is none.

Non-Stop's first scenes are in slow-motion. Unfortunately, the movie stays in that mode.

Liam Neeson is federal marshall Bill Marks. He's an alcoholic who has fallen on hard times. You learn the what and why as the story moves forward. Marks is on duty on a transatlantic flight. He gets a text message from someone on the plane demanding $150 million or someone will die every 20-minutes.

A desperate Marks pushes passenger Jen Summers to help with the investigation. She's played by Julianne Moore. Their search for the villain is unsuccessful. As people start dying, Marks is set up as the fall-guy by the mastermind behind the crime.

Non-Stop is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. He also did the not-very-good Neeson star vehicle, Unknown, and earlier in his career did the awful remake of House of Wax in 2005. While he's not the best storyteller, Non-Stop isn't all Collet-Serra's fault.

The setting limits the story. You can't do a whole lot on an airplane. And unless you're an Alfred Hitchcock with a unique sense of human character and how we all behave in a confined, stressful situation, you're not going to succeed with a story like Non-Stop's.

Collet-Serra isn't in that ballpark or that of a dozen other directors who might pull this off.

To be fair, he and his cast fall victim to a horrible screenplay from writers John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach and Ryan Engle. They're unknowns who've written for TV programs few of you have heard of, and Roach written for wrestlers and the battles of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

That alone speaks volumes.

Neeson -- who was once a great actor -- has settled into routine, two-dimensional characters. Marks is boring and made even more boring by Neeson, who sleepwalks through this performance. Moore, who is usually the bright spot in any movie, does the same.

They and their supporting actors also cannot be blamed. As noted, the script is awful and Collet-Serra's directing isn't much better.

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Stars: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy

Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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