NON-STOP Senior Citizen Action
DIRECTOR: JAUME COLLET-SERRA/2014
Non-Stop is very much an early-90’s kind of movie, in the best possible way. That is to say, it’s the type of bare-bones-and-knuckles, streamlined mystery-thriller potboiler you rarely see anymore, but that seemed to be more prevalent in the days of Passenger 57 and Speed. Despite the setting of the former, Non-Stop owes more than a little to the latter, as it feels a lot like Speed on a plane, at least in terms of overall tone—the plots of the two movies only share some of the most basic common elements, which is mostly unavoidable within the genre.
And within the genre, which aspires to no great meaning other than simply having a blast at the movies, Non-Stop is about as good as a movie like this can be.
It’s tense, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat stuff. It keeps you guessing until the end. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that was this good at being this specifically this type of flick.
It has to be at least five or ten years. It really does feel like some lost gem from 1994, aside from the fact that the plot makes essential use of cell phones and Wi-Fi as an important plot device—something that would have been unheard of 20 years ago.
I actually really appreciated Non-Stop’s use of technology—so many thrillers have to come up with increasingly implausible ways of separating the protagonists from their cell phones. The environment of a plane sort of makes cell phone use moot anyway—yet Non-Stop incorporates wireless technology in a way integral to the plot that is really quite clever.
The movie’s got a great leading man in Liam Neeson, who has improbably metamorphosed into an action hero in his old age (I still remember when he was known primarily for arthouse dramas like Schindler’s List). It’s got a great supporting cast in Julianne Moore, Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery, House of Cards’ Corey Stoll, 12 Years a Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o, and a host of other lesser-known actors who all do solid work here. The director, Jaume Collet-Serra, has a really solid filmography, having previously made some really solid horror movies, including 2009’s Orphan, 2005’s House of Wax (honestly one of the better horror remakes), and several episodes of the 2012’s solid found-footage horror TV series The River.
I’m using the word “solid” a lot here, because it’s honestly the best way to describe Non-Stop: A really solid, enjoyable, entertaining flick. It accomplishes everything it sets out to do, and it does what it does really well. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything more in this kind of movie.
 A testament to the growing subgenre of the action movie, in which guys in their fifties, sixties, and even seventies are the ones kicking ass and taking names. Although Sylvester Stallone has sort of become the godfather of this niche genre for the baby boomer set, Arnold Schwarzenegger essentially kicked it off in 2003 with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. But I have to give credit to Patrick Stewart, who was ahead of the curve in 1996 when he insisted on turning the pensive diplomat Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation into an action hero for the TNG movies. It was silly and embarrassing back then, but who could know that it would become commonplace a mere decade later? The poor guy was simply ahead of his time, and missed out on riding the wave of ass-kicking senior citizens.