There’s a bit of Liam Neeson in all of us, why he is so engaging and vulnerable on screen. No one quite does pathos and anxiety like the big Northern Irishman. In the early days before acting Liam was a forklift operator for Guinness, a truck driver for TNT, an assistant architect and an amateur boxer, amongst other jobs. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St Mary's Teaching College, Belfast. His career peaked with his astounding performance in Schindlers List but tailed off after he chased the big bucks playing iconic historic figures and the disastrous mid nineties comic book movie genre movies. But in 2008 he was in the cult hit Taken and since then cashing in big time by pretty much playing the same vigilante character in the same film but in a different order over and over again. Non Stop is just another fun version of Taken. He strikes me as an insecure working-class actor that turned down the chance to be one of the greats by filling his pockets while he could. But we will let him get away with that as he has made some cool movies. He is certainly a trooper, pulling himself together after the sad death of his wife Natasha Richardson in a freak skiing accident and finishing the final scene of this movie, even when he was Suffering a mini stroke in that final scene.
Washed up boozy ex cop Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is onboard a flight to London when he receives a threatening text from an unknown person. Bill Marks is the Air Marshall for the flight and the man on the Blackberry is threatening to kill someone every twenty minutes on the flight, unless the airline deposits $150 million dollars into a bank account number provided. He knows the texter is on the plane as they know his actions but they are halfway across the Atlantic and so know turning back. He now has to his job and try and work out who it is and stop the killing.
After the first twenty minutes a man does indeed die and so a very serious situation and not the suspected prank he thought. Marks is in touch with the ground and the pilot is now aware of the threat. We have been introduced to various passengers by this point in the movie and everyone under suspicion, including his seating companion Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), who quickly becomes part of his trusted circle as he tries to keep the passengers calm by telling them as little as possible. But when a second person dies he can no longer contain the situation and also becomes a suspect by his proximity to the dead bodies as his troubled past is revealed. It turns out the bank account is registered to him and he is the only one on board with a gun and so a possible hijack situation. The twists come thick and fast like the dead bodies thereafter as the Air Marshall tries to convince the crew and passengers he is not the bad guy here..
It’s certainly a topical movie after the German Wings and MH370 tragedies and enjoys playing with post 911 paranoia that keeps those intriguing and troubling news stories alive and more and more of these movies on our screens. The irony is the locked cockpit door protocol is going to cause far more pilot suicides, hijacks and terror attacks than the open door ever did, why it was never locked. I remember being on an Olympic Airways flight with the door swinging free as we took off and the co-pilot standing in that doorway smoking a fag chatting up the stewardess. The number of flights being bought down by suicidal pilots is far higher than we are being told because the airlines are far more libel if that is ever discovered.
Neeson is again solid as a man with faults he must overcome to save those around him and has the audience on his side for all of these movies, why he keeps making them and why we keep watching them. This one did $228 million back from a mid range $50 million budget and so evidence of the winning formula. I must admit I do enjoy them and can watch Taken over and over again.
Non Stop is exactly that and a tense, taught and claustrophobic throughout and you buy into the Hitchcockian plot as the twists and suspects pile up. Director Jaume Collet-Serra skillfully sets up each character as a suspect and then throws up a cheeky spinnaker or two as the film heads off in a different direction. You do kind of work out at least one of the bad guys but as there are so many possible villains the director always stays in control of the mystery as he reels you in with suspense, paranoia and excitement. Its genuinely good fun and a well made thriller. Baring in mind 97% of the movie is set inside the plane that’s no mean feat. He also uses social media well and no ignorance of it like you do get in other movie genres like horror. In fact modern media communication is the driver of the movie. The distinct lack of evidence of social media and cell phone action on Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 makes the disappearance all the more intriguing. Surely somebody got a text or email off when the 777 changed course?
I was surprised to see Oscar winners Julian Moore and Lupita Nyong'o in token ‘totty’ roles here but reassuring in a way as you know they only took this film because they knew it was an above average script and idea for a cool action movie. It’s a shrewd film, too, in the way it exploits all the in-flight air disaster movie clichés and although it uses most of them up you are never mumbling about that fact. It reminds me of Flightplan with Jody Foster meets Red Eye with Cillian Murphy and Passenger 57 with Wesley Snipes, Downtown Abbeys very own Michelle Dockery playing the Halle Berry distressed but stoic stewardess role. I guarantee you will enjoy this guys and Liam Neeson on good form. It really is top end popcorn thriller stuff.
Imdb.com – 7.0/10.0 (162,234votes)
Rottentomatos.com –% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 56% critic’s approval
Leonard Maltin Film Year Book –
As part of our cable package (we gave up our Sky dish last year) from NTL I receive all of the UKTV channels, which includes UKTV Drama.
My wife and I both find that this is a channel we are tuning into more and more of an evening, simply because of the really high quality of the programming.
UKTV Drama doesn't actually produce or air any new programmes or drama. Instead they appear to buy up the rights to screen whole series of both drama and classic comedy from other stations like the BBC, ITV, and from some of the American networks.
As the name of the channel would suggest, the bulk of the programming is old drama series, along with a smattering of classic comedy series and some movies.
Currently my own personal favourites from among the drama programmes are "New Tricks", "Taggart" and "Silent Witness", whereas my better half prefers "Murder She Wrote" and "Miss Marple".
In the comedy stakes we seem to have much the same taste, and enjoy classics like "Keeping Up Appearances" and "Last Of The Summer Wine".
I've only given you a very small taste of the vast array of programmes that are shown on this marvellous channel as to list them all would be literally impossible and my review would run to about 10,000 words! If you have the channel then you can check out their programmes for yourself, or if you'd be interested in subscribing then you can always go to their comprehensive and well laid out website. (Simply Google it!)
UKTV Drama has something for every taste.
© KenJ January 2008
I think this is one of the best channels on TV. I enjoy watching replays of such programmes as Bergerac, New Tricks, etc. and I especially enjoyed the Tenko replays.I am hoping that you will soon show the next series as I am suffering withdrawal symptoms!I am also enjoying the continual police/crime shows - there is nothing on the current main channels to compare with the old ones!
Do you like watching the boys from the Blackstuff, The Lakes, Tenko then this is the channel for you. You have another chance to see all the classic dramas shown on ITV and the BBC, all those years ago. You will be able to see them all on this channel. Available Via Sky Digital, Cable and most probably through Analogue. The picture quality is not bad and the sound quality is fine. You cant help notice the logo on this channel I wish they would ban all logos, we know which channel we are viewing for gods sake it tells you when you turn the channel.
It has been almost worth my £27 per month BSKYB subscription just to get this channel. For the past six weeks I have been glued to every episode of the rerun of that great late 70s / early 80s classic "The Onedin Line". If that is not to your taste, they have "Tenko", "Secret Army", "A Horseman Riding By" in their repertoire, as well as more recent costume dramas such as "Barchester Chronicles" and "Vanity Fair". My only criticism is the strange hours they run on the digital system - 7pm until 6am - I all for providing Tenko at 5 o clock i the morning for shift workers etc, but with such a wealth of maerial, why not put it on round the clock?