By Eleanor Ringel Cater
The on-going transformation of Liam Neeson — from sensitive hero of serious movie like “Schindler’s List,” “Michael Collins” and “Ethan Frome” to action hero of “Taken,” “Unknown” and “The Grey” — continues with “Non-Stop.”
Probably the weakest of the New Neeson movies, it is, nonetheless, an entertaining thriller that holds up really well until, say, its last 10 minutes. Even so, it’s still an entertaining picture.
The premise is initially pretty straightforward. Neeson is an alcoholic air marshal who, like Denzel Washington in “Flight,” thinks a nip or two is the breakfast of champions. As the movie progresses, we learn there’s a reason for his melancholy. His little daughter has died.
He also hates flying.
Neeson is cruising along at about 30,000 feet on a transatlantic flight to London when he receives a disturbing text on his supposedly secure cell phone. Unless $150 million is wired to a certain account, somebody on board is going to die every 15 minutes.
Who could it be? The suspiciously chatty Julianne Moore who’s taken the seat next to him? The racially-profiled Muslem passenger? The needlessly belligerent off-duty cop? Maybe the guy who looks a lot like a young Stephen King.
Then things get really twisty. As the previews have already revealed, it’s possible the culprit is Neeson himself.
Unfortunately, the final segment descends into “Airport” territory; the only things missing are a beaming nun and a little kid who needs an organ transplant.
However, given the state of movies these days, especially in the abyss that is late February/early March. Let’s be grateful for small favors. Heck, for medium-sized favors. Especially when they offer a jumbo-sized favor like Neeson in the title role.