“Non-Stop” takes on a genre that audiences haven’t seen in a long time: the whodunit thriller. It’s a refreshing premise that wouldn’t feel out of place in an Alfred Hitchcock film. It does a fantastic job of constantly keeping viewers guessing, but sadly, it falls into a clichéd mess, especially by the end.
Liam Neeson — borrowing heavily from his performance in “Taken,” which isn’t a bad thing — is a U.S. Air Marshall by the name of Bill Marks. Marks is on an international flight from New York to London. Soon after the plane takes off, he receives a mysterious text stating that someone on the flight will die every 20 minutes unless a ransom is paid. After people do indeed start dying (how they end up that way I’ll not spoil), it’s up to Marks to find the culprit while trying to dodge ill will from the passengers themselves.
Thematically, “Non-Stop” asks a lot of questions regarding when Air Marshalls and airline security go too far, and when they’re allowed to do so. As the film goes on, these questions are increasingly thrust into the spotlight and even our protagonist isn’t quite sure how to answer them. While the messages of security ethics end up becoming more and more ham-handed later in the film, they still lend the movie a presence in today’s important security discussions.
The film also does a fine job of preserving that sense of confusion that the best mysteries are capable of doing. That confusion, after being mixed with the tension of the situation, makes a satisfying blend that will keep audiences glued to the edge of their seats.
Sadly, that doesn’t stop the film from becoming clichéd, especially by the end — though the reason why is a spoiler. While the film is a satisfying whodunit, it still doesn’t bring anything new to the table. While Liam Neeson is entertaining as always, his performance is still very similar to his other past performances. The themes are important, but they’re themes viewers have seen before.
“Non-Stop” does what it does very well, but at the cost of feeling clichéd and done before. It’s a fantastic, edge-of-your-seat thriller, but at the same time, it doesn’t do anything new. Those who enjoy the genre will almost certainly get a kick out of this, but anyone who is tired of the action tropes of today should be turning to Netflix to check out an old Hitchcock thriller instead.