Friday, March 7, 2014
The less said, the better about the preposterous "Non-Stop."
Liam Neeson continues his paycheck-cashing run as an unlikely action hero given to such disdainful line readings as, "Do I know what I'm doing? [growl] Do you know what you're doing?" The High Concept (literally) involves his Air Marshal Bill Marks, working the fictitious British Aqualantic Airlines, receiving text messages over his secure network from an anonymous baddie who threatens to kill someone on board every twenty minutes unless $150 million is wired into an account (which turns out to be registered in Marks' name - ooh).
The unintentional laughs start early, when a flight attendant (TV's Michelle Dockery) apologizes for almost spilling a drink: "I'm on a new juice diet. It gives me the shakes." They pretty much never stop , and culminate in the unfortunate sight of Lupita Nyong'o (another stewardess, with about a minute of total screen time) folding her arms over her chest and whooshing down an evacuation slide. In between comes the revelation of the villain (the video establishing his identity is played about half a dozen times, in case you're too dense to catch it after four). He tells Marks, "Anything you say, I've planned for a thousand times over." To which Marks responds, "Well, what about such-and-such?" and the villain gives a look that reads, "Gee, hadn't thought of that."
Only Julianne Moore escapes with her dignity mostly intact. I'm sure she went off-script, traipsing around the cabin at will and delivering line readings that seem almost to catch Neeson off guard. It's not that you'll have a bad time at "Non-Stop"; quite the contrary, you'll have fun. But it'll be fun of your own (and your friends') making, and the hack writers (John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach) and director (Jaume Collet-Serra) can't take any credit for that.