Neeson’s in total control, unstoppable in ‘Non-Stop’

Do not doubt Liam Neeson. This lesson from the recent string of action movies starring the 61-year-old actor is reinforced by “Non-Stop,” a bang-up thriller with Neeson as the lone hope for a plane full of innocent passengers and a crazed hijacker.

Seriously: If I’m on a flight and bad stuff is going down, I want Liam Neeson there. Dude is so gigantic and forceful he looks like he could land the plane by carrying it on his shoulders.

In this one, he’s a federal air marshal who begins getting text messages from a maniac threatening to kill one passenger every 20 minutes. The hijacker wants 150 million bucks, but Neeson begins to suspect something else might be going on.

The movie gives Neeson something to play: His guy is alcoholic and depressed, with just enough backstory to make us wonder whether this might be an inside job.

Meanwhile, a gallery of suspects is presented. There’s a frequent flyer (Julianne Moore) insisting on a window seat, two flight attendants (Michelle Dockery from “Downton Abbey” and current “12 Years a Slave” Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o), a jittery nerd (Scoot McNairy), an angry NYPD cop (Corey Stoll), a doctor (Omar Metwally).

With the clock ticking and the plane over the Atlantic, director Jaume Collet-Serra has some built-in suspense going. He doesn’t do anything to screw it up.

The best movie Neeson has done in his post-“Taken” phase of bare-knuckle films is “The Grey,” that existential Arctic adventure. “Non-Stop” doesn’t hit that level, but it does benefit from its confined, pressure-cooker premise.

If the material is low-grade pulp, it is spiffed up by the high-grade cast — Julianne Moore is obviously over-qualified for this, but she gets a few moments going, and everybody else is in the swing of things.

But mostly it’s Neeson who makes even the dumb plot turns forgivable. He bulls his way through (no winks to the audience about how absurd this all is), and somehow it’s much more credible than it should be.

There’s one moment involving a fistfight, a loose gun and a dramatic drop in altitude that might’ve come straight out of a Saturday-afternoon cliffhanger serial. It’s ridiculous, but Liam Neeson pulls it off — so who am I to argue?

“Non-Stop”

Liam Neeson brings his authority to another mostly unbelievable thriller — and he makes you buy it. He’s an air marshal aboard a flight that carries a maniac hijacker, which gives the movie a confined setting and a ticking clock. Julianne Moore co-stars.

Rated: PG-13 for violence.

Showing: Alderwood Mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Meridian, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.

More in Life

The ‘Whimsical Woman’ shares what she learns on the trail

Jennifer Mabus came here from Nevada and Hawaii. She leads hikes and blogs about them.

Branch out: ‘Tasting Cider’ recipes call for hard apple cider

Top cider makers share how they like to make hush puppies, bread pudding and the pear-fect cocktail.

‘Tasting Cider’ a sweet resource for hard apple cider fans

Erin James, the editor-in-chief of Cidercraft magazine, wrote a book all about the fermented drink.

For Texas BBQ, look for the school bus at the reptile museum

This husband-and-wife team has been serving up brisket and more for a decade in Monroe.

You won’t be able to stop eating this colorful chicken salad

The slaw of bell pepper, cabbage and carrot holds up well overnight in the refrigerator.

Raising grandkids can feel like the second time around

The responsiblities of serving as a parent can compete with the joys of being a grandparent.

Commentary: Community Transit to keep up with regional growth

Snohomish County’s bus system prepares for more people — including more older residents.

Fur & Feathers with energetic Lincoln and big-attitude Chase

One dog is not a fan of cats or men. The other definitely prefers adults only.

Almost everyone has questions about Social Security

The most frequent guestion about retirement benefits: ‘When can I start receiving them?’

Most Read