What happens when someone hacks into an Air Marshall's phone, and demands a large sum of money or everyone on the plane dies? Well let's face it, hijacking movies can be a bit formulaic. However, if you're up for a high action take on a classic theme, with a couple of good plot twists, I recommend seeing "Non-Stop."
Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks, a Federal Air Marshall working a trans-Atlantic flight while battling alcoholism and demons from his past. NPR says this movie features Neeson "at his Neesoniest, and yet another entry in his expanding late-career bloom into gruff and commanding action hero" (see: Taken and Taken 2). Without revealing too much about the plot, I'll just say his vices bring his character into question while the drama unfolds at cruising altitude.
As an aviation geek, I often look for discrepancies between the scenes where they show the exterior of the plane versus the interior. For example, a movie may show a 747 exterior but the inside scenes only show 3-by-3 single aisle seating. Non-Stop did a fine job of consistency from this standpoint. Exterior and interior scenes both featured equipment consistent with the Boeing 767. The outside of the plane was obviously a 767, but the inside was very nondescript in that the seating arrangement (2-1-2 up front, 2-3-2 in Coach) matches the 767 but I've never seen lights around the window scallops like this plane showed. My biggest hang-up was that the flight only had 150 passengers, while a 767 can hold 181 to 245 passengers depending on configuration - yet every seat seemed to be filled on this plane.
Michelle Dockery makes a convincing flight attendant, and with her British accent, I'd be sure to listen to her safety announcements if I were on board. I couldn't help but imagine the Crawley family (of Downton Abbey) and what they would have done in the situation. I think Lady Edith would have been the first to die, because, let's face it - the poor girl can't seem to catch a break. The Dowager Countess would have been in First Class, scoffing at the absurdity of the ordeal. Cora, the Countess of Grantham, would be giggly from a few too many gin and tonics while Robert, the Earl of Grantham, attempts to hide himself from embarrassment. Daisy and Ivy would be flight attendants, arguing over who gets to serve the handsome businessman sitting aside the Dowager Countess.
I found Julianne Moore's character Jen to be a bit annoying. She plays the chatty neighbor in the seat next to Agent Marks - a neighbor we're all too familiar with as fliers. She just sort of wanders throughout the cabin during the ordeal, being the only passenger who is neither a suspect nor a prisoner.
Overall, the reviews have not been too kind for Non-Stop. It received a mediocre 58% from Rotten Tomatoes, but I was well-entertained throughout the film. And while the ending was predictable, the plot from start to finish kept me highly engaged.
A little history lesson for you - the Boeing 767 entered service in 1982, and was the first commercial airliner to be stretched twice! The 767-300 (180 feet) is 21 feet longer that the 767-200 (159 feet). And, the 767-400 (201 feet) is 21 feet longer than the 767-300. Per Boeing, it flies across the Atlantic more than any other airplane. 767s are no longer being built for airlines, however they are now being produced as the KC-46A Tanker, replacing the older KC-135.
"Non-Stop" by Universal Pictures / Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Released February 28, 2014 / Run time: 106 minutes