Everyone’s talking about Liam Neeson these days, and that means lots of people are going back to check out his recent films that may have missed, which is likely why his 2014 film Non-Stop has suddenly jumped to the top of the streaming charts. It’s been the #2 movie on HBO Max since last week, despite the fact that it’s been a decade since its premiere. Neeson, of course, is the main reason why, but it also happens to be a tightly-wound, intense thriller, and a fun watch.
The film tells the story of Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), a federal Air Marshal on a red-eye flight from New York to London. Marks is burned out and just pulling in a paycheck, but his routine flight becomes anything but when a mysterious figure on the plane threatens to kill someone on the plane every twenty minutes unless he is paid a ransom of $150 million. The killer is only communicating by texts to Marks’ phone, so it’s a race against time to find out who is behind the threat.
Of course, there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, and just when you think Marks has it figured out, a new suspect emerges. Pretty soon, people start dying, and chaos ensues. Complicating matters is the fact that the mastermind behind the plot is framing Marks, so even his superiors on the ground – and most of the passengers – don’t believe or trust him. There are some twists that stretch believability, in order to keep the tension up, but if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief, you’ll enjoy yourself. The ending is a slam-bang one, and like any good mystery, will keep you guessing until the end.
The film was a solid hit for Liam Neeson and Universal Pictures, grossing over $92 million domestically and $223 million worldwide. The film has a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with most critics admitting it is a fun action thrill ride. Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader said it was “playful without feeling jokey, the narrative stuffed with fun complications.” David Denby of The New Yorker liked the film as well, highlighting Neeson’s powerful on-screen presence, in spite of his age. Filmgoers were in agreement with critics, giving it a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as well.
The cast is outstanding, with a number of faces who have become even more familiar since their appearance in the film. Julianne Moore, of course, is the most recognizable, and the film marks the second time the Oscar-winner starred in a film with Liam Neeson, after 2009’s Chloe. Michelle Dockery is now well-known for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in the hit PBS series Downton Abbey and its two big-screen follow-up films. Anson Mount also stars in the film, and he is now well known to genre fans of all types. He currently stars as Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and appeared in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as Black Bolt. Corey Stoll is perhaps best recognized for his role in Marvel’s Ant-Man as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, and he also had a standout role in FX’s vampire horror series The Strain, created by Guillermo del Toro. He is also rumored to be returning as Yellowjacket for the Marvel film Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
A couple of actors also share some curious connections to Liam Neeson and his films. Linus Roache, who plays the pilot in the film, starred as Thomas Wayne in 2005’s Batman Begins, starring with Neeson, who played Ducard/Ra’s Al Ghul. Lupita Nyong’o, who stars as Gwen the flight attendant, is a Star Wars alum with Neeson, having played and voiced Maz Kanata in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy, starting with 2015’s The Force Awakens. Neeson will once again reprise his role as Qui-Gon Jinn in Tales of the Jedi, a series of animated Star Wars shorts coming to Disney+ later this year.
The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who has just directed Dwayne Johnson in the biggest movie of his career, DC’s Black Adam, due in theaters this October. He also directed Dwayne Johnson in Jungle Cruise in 2021. He has directed Liam Neeson in three other films besides Non-Stop: Unknown (2011), Run All Night (2015) and The Commuter (2018). His other films include The Shallows, Orphan, and House of Wax.