There was a time when Liam Neeson was known for Schindler’s List and not for being Taken once every two years. In one of the more odd action-star transitions in history, Neeson has gone from a serious dramatic actor to Nicolas Cage with gravitas. Sure, we get a real acting turn from Neeson once in a while, but he seems perfectly content right now churning out B-movie action films, none of which I’ve found remotely palatable. (Yet still I watch…)
Non-Stop is actually much better than it has any right to be, at times being downright clever before being sabotaged by a lazy ending. Neeson plays a US Air Marshall who is texted by a passenger while a flight is in the air saying that they will kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited into the account of their choice. So, yes, the plane has now been Taken.
The film takes place nearly entirely within the cabin of the plane as the situation continues to escalate and with several clever plot twists, the entire matter is turned around on Neeson’s character, making it look like he’s orchestrating the entire fiasco. It doesn’t hurt that the acting talent in the film is top-notch with Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, House of Cards’ Corey Stoll and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery anchoring a solid ensemble to sell the outlandish premise. When it comes time for the denouement, though, the film can’t quite stick the landing and drifts back into schlock territory. However, I can actually say I found myself enjoying this as a late night rental and I’d recommend it, in that context, to fans of the genre. I’d like to think this represents an uptick in Neeson’s taste in projects, but Taken 3 is already in pre-production.