Saturday, November 1, 2014

Non-Stop: An Exiting though Flawed Film

Google Images (2014)

My husband, Chet, and I watch a lot of movies, mainly because Chet is a movie “nut,” and one of the more recent movies we’ve viewed is Non-Stop (We saw it over the weekend), so I thought I would share my opinion on this flawed but at times exciting film while it’s still fresh in my mind

Billed as action/mystery/thriller and rated PG-13, for intense action, violence, and some language (The action is intense at times, but the violence is not graphic and the language is mild compared to most of today’s movies; in fact, I noted little profanity), this 2014 film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serrastars and stars:

  • Liam Neeson as Bill Marks, formerly of the NYPD, now a United States Air Marshal with a drinking problem

  • Julianne Moore as Jen Summers, a passenger whom Bill instantly trusts for some unexplained reason

  • Michelle Dockery as Nancy Hoffman, a flight attendant whom Bill has known for a while and therefore has reason to trust

  • Nate Parker as Zack White, a brilliant programmer who aids Bill as he searches for the terrorist

  • Linus Roache as Captain David McMillan, the captain of the plane, though he’s role is short-lived since he mysteriously dies not too long into the flight

  • Scoot McNairy as Tom Bowen, a school teacher who gets roughed up by Bill

  • Corey Stoll as Austin Reilly, NYPD police officer who has his nose broken by Bill

  • Lupita Nyong'o as Gwen Lloyd, a flight attendant with a weird hairdo

  • Anson Mount as Jack Hammond, the other Air Marshal on board the flight

  • Omar Metwally as Dr. Fahim Nasir, a passenger and Muslim doctor, who is automatically suspect since he’s Muslim

  • Jason Butler Harner as First Officer Kyle Rice, the co-pilot, who has to fly the plane after the pilot dies mysteriously, so it’s a good thing he knows how to fly

  • Quinn McColgan as Becca, a little girl who whines a lot so Bill wastes time consoling her when he has better things to do

Brief Synopsis of the Plot of Non-Stop:

Bill Marks (Neeson) and Jack Hammond (Mount) are U.S. Air Marshals assigned to a Boeing 767 non-stop flight from New York to London. Don’t ask me why. They just are. Anyway, when the plane is approximately half-way across the Atlantic, Bill begins receiving text messages from someone on the plane. The sender says that someone will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specified account.
Google Images (2014)

Bill tries to figure out which passenger is sending the texts, but that’s hard to do when almost everyone on board is intent on some device. So, Bill takes Jack to the lavatory (I guess it’s as good a place as any for a conference) to tell him about the text, but before he can, Jack, who’s been acting weird since the flight began, blurts out, “But I need the money,” leading Bill to believe that Jack is the culprit, so a fight ensues and Bill accidentally kills Jack. Then he opens Jack’s briefcase (I guess he was curious), only to learn that Jack was concealing a large amount of cocaine in a plastic bag in the briefcase (He was obviously smuggling it to London).
Okay, so Bill thinks he has eliminated the terrorist. Wrong! He immediately gets another text saying basically, “See, I told you somebody would die in 20 minutes.” Oops! Bill killed Jack! Now, the clock starts ticking again and in 20 minutes someone else will die unless the money is transferred.

Bill solicits the aid of Jen (Moore) and Nancy (Dockery) to help him identify the passenger sending the texts by watching them closely to see who is using his or her phone.  (Yeah, right. They all are, well except maybe the baby.) One of the women pinpoints the school teacher (Heck if I know why), so Bill roughs him up, drags him down the aisle, plops him down in the rear of the plane, and duct-tapes his hands together (Duct tape is a handy thing to have, isn’t it?) Wrong again! It isn’t the school teacher because while he’s sitting there with his hands duct-taped, the pilot falls over dead.

Google Images (2014)
Now things get even more implausible in this implausible chain of events because suddenly the powers-that-be in the States decide that Bill is hijacking the plane after some idiot passenger uploads a video of him manhandling the school teacher. Of course, the situation is complicated by the fact that the account where the money is to be transferred is in Bill’s name, even though, as Bill points out, “Would I be so stupid as to have the account in my own name?” Bill Parks may have a drinking problem, but he isn’t stupid. After all,  he’s played by Liam Neeson.

In the meantime, the co-pilot has been told by those same powers-that-be that Bill has gone rogue and to ignore Bill. Moreover, the co-pilot is to divert the flight to Iceland and land there. An escort of fighter jets is being sent to ensure that the plane, one, doesn’t descend any lower than dictated; and, two, it doesn’t deviate from the assigned flight path. If it does, the jets will shoot the 767 out of the sky. (Is this standard procedure for a suspected hijacking?)

All right, this review is getting a bit long, so to make a long story somewhat shorter, another passenger dies, people begin panicking, and Bill receives yet another text message, this one saying that a bomb is on the plane and will be activated in 20 minutes if the money isn’t transferred.  Bill, Jen, Nancy, the programmer, and the NYPD officer all begin searching for the bomb, and “Voila!” they find it. It’s inside the package of cocaine. As for why Bill didn’t notice the bomb when he slit the plastic to verify the package’s contents, heck if I know, but the clock on the bomb is now ticking.  

Bill says that he knows how to minimize damage to the plane and saves lives. One, the co-pilot must descend to 8,000 feet (Something about equalizing cabin pressure). Two, they need to place the bomb at the farthest point to the back of the plane, which is in the galley. Three, they need to take the bags from the overhead racks and stack them in front of where they placed the bomb. (Will a bunch of suitcases really limit the destruction of a bomb big enough to blow a jumbo jet out of the sky?) Finally, the passengers need to move to the front of the plane, buckle their seatbelts, and cover their heads. (Another question: if everyone moves to the front of a plane, won’t the plane tilt drastically forward and go into a nosedive?)

And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot; otherwise, you’ll know everything that happens, so you need to see the movie to find out if Bill’s ingenious damage-control plan works and who the “bad guy” is on the plane.

A See-Again Movie, but Not Anytime Soon

In summary, the plot is at times illogical, but Non-Stop keeps you guessing the terrorist’s identity almost until the very end, provides an entertaining ride, and showcases the talents of the always-watchable Liam Neeson. The final ten minutes are non-stop action, so I guess that’s why they called the film Non-Stop. And, although I would not see the movie again anytime soon, I would definitely see it again once enough time had elapsed for me to have forgotten the implausible plot.   

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