The Big Screen

The Big Screen: Neeson brings ‘Non-Stop’ thrills

March 14, 2014 

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Liam Neeson and Kevin Costner duke it out this weekend to determine who Hollywood’s reigning action star really is, and no, this isn’t an article from two decades ago. It’s “Non-Stop” vs. “3 Days to Kill,” two high octane films whose heroes happen to be middle-aged, and completely badass.

I can only speak for the awesomeness of Liam Neeson, as I haven’t yet seen “3 Days to Kill.” Neeson has been a Hollywood presence for nearly 30 years, first gaining notoriety in Woody Allen’s “Husbands and Wives” (still my favorite Neeson performance), and quickly becoming a big player with “Schindler’s List.” He has built a career around playing more serious sensitive men, so it’s an enormous surprise to see his “Taken” franchise explode and for Neeson’s late career to bloom as a sort of older and rougher version of Jason Bourne.

In “Non-Stop” he plays Bill Marks, a retired air marshal on a flight from New York to London that’s been hijacked by a terrorist. Marks has been kicked off the police force and put on the air marshal detail. He’s looking to vindicate himself, although it’s unlikely that he’ll ever see any action again – until this flight of course. The safe network he uses to communicate with TSA is compromised and an unknown passenger sends him texts informing him that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited in a bank account. The game of cat and mouse begins as Neeson tries to stop the deaths of passengers, which quickly begin to stack up.

It’s nothing new. In its best scenes it’s fluff that borders on the laughable. It’s the kind of material that Neeson could play in his sleep and still run away with an enormous paycheck. But, just as he does in “Taken” and “The Grey,” he gives it all he’s got and elevates the film from nearly unwatchable to highly entertaining.

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