The blog title is a bit misleading, of course Frozen is an animated fairy tale about a sister (Princess) with magical powers and can stop just about anyone or anything in their tracks with an icy glare and happens to be an outcast, but really is a hero that saves a tiny village contained within a castle. Whereas Non-Stop is about a U.S. air marshal who saves passengers on a plane while he is made out to be the bad guy and really is the hero but intimidates just about everyone with an icy stare. At least Liam Neeson or other people on the plane don’t assail us in song in the movie or numerous amateurs in youtube videos. I’m truly thankful for that concession, although it did throw in a couple “cute moments” with a young girl and her need for comfort (as well as rescue) by the protagonist. I guess this was one way to show the audience early on that despite what you might see him do later, he’s basically a good guy.
I have to add this as a rule for anticipating what is going to happen in movies despite all of the calculated intricacies of bad guy or gal planning. This is an update to previous cowboy hero and karate movies that came along later. The one exception to this rule is Clint Eastwood, he’s still involved in ‘bad assery’ and he can act, whereas it might not be quite as obvious for the others I mention. When you saw John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Jacki Chan, Jet Li or Bruce Lee show up, it’s time to pack your bags and go home as a bad guy. The same thing is true, and has been that way for 50 years now, anytime you hear a man introduce himself, last name first as Bond, first name last, James, you need to reconsider your diabolical plans.
This penumbra should be obvious to all ne’er-do-wells before embarking on their next malevolent assignment. This should be a highlighted and underscored caution for all subordinates wearing red shirts or henchman and can now be stated with as obvious announcement as an FBI most wanted poster. When you discover Liam Neeson show up in stylish period costume, uniform, plain clothes, or even temporarily hiding out in a lofty mountain retreat, head for the nearest exit. Don’t think for a moment that your hiding, cleverness or secret weaponry is going to save you from a well deserved smack down. It’s also well advised, even if you think for a moment, this guy is just a few years away from wearing adult diapers, that you can take him down. Even Batman had a problem fighting this guy and it was only the fact that bad luck and the need to continue the series of a comic book movie trilogy combined with the ability to deeply mumble dialog better than Neeson, saved Christian Bale.
In this movie, we find early on that Air Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is your typical modern almost comic book hero. He’s as flawed as Tony Stark without the flash and techno-fighting suit.
All of this revealed personal baggage lends itself to the plot line as we see him fall into a carefully (or so we’re led to believe) plan to pin the entire fiendish scenario squarely on him. The best quote to sum up this movie is the line where he says “I’m not hijacking this plane, I’m trying to save it.” That line is appropriate while watching the movie, because he’s not trying to ruin the script, he’s trying to save it. It takes a big man to fill the requirements of this movie. Reluctant hero, who is as self-absorbed in his own life problems as any of us, suddenly finds he has as big of a PR battle as Cary Grant, while trying to discover and neutralize the recalcitrant plan. Unfortunately he has none of the charm, wit or good writing to back him up as Grant had in North by Northwest.
Without question, Liam Neeson would drop Cary Grant like a bad habit if they were peers. Speaking of which, we’ve often seen product placement in movies to act as a subliminal “buy me” message. In this movie we see Air Marshall Marks, steal a personal moment in the plane restroom to think while he removes and sets down various objects on a shelf. They are, Marshall’s badge, cigarettes, and a gun. I believe the generic fake label cigarettes were called “Bilson”. If there’s ever an overt message planted as clear as the text messages throughout the film, the badge represents authority, the gun death, as well as the cigarettes. It’s entertainment’s current moral high ground. This contrasts with the supposed not-so secret moment by the couple seated behind Marshall Marks having an under covers tryst. It seemed awkwardly placed to bring this plot up to date and have the audience see a “natural moment” within.
While on the subject of human interest in the movie, Julianne Moore is well placed. She is an accomplished actress, and like Neeson can fill in where script substance and believability is MIA. I could summarize what I see were gaps in logic, credibility and timing, but we as a viewing audience have long ago gave up adherence to those rules when it came to action hero plot lines. Cough-cough, “Die Hard”, Die Hard 2″, etc.
Ever since I saw Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, I’ve been impressed by his ability to draw me in and see it from his character’s perspective. It’s a great acting skill when you’re compelled to suspend your belief and think it through as if you were involved with the character(s) portrayed. Perhaps the greatest gift of the actors trade is to want to see how it all turns out rather than skip the pop corn and read a book. I would say this movie rates about 2.5 stars out of 4.