January and February are traditionally regarded as dumping grounds for Hollywood’s lesser movies — the time when studios release the films not good enough for Oscar season and not promising enough for the summer box office. But with a surprising string of winter action hits, beginning with 2009’s Taken, that window might also be termed Neeson Season. “Neeson’s imposing 6’4” frame, haunted eyes, and knack for snapping limbs like celery stalks have elevated throwaways such as Unknown, The Grey, and Taken 2 into something more than the sum of their parts,” writes EW’s Chris Nashawaty. “They may not all be memorable films, but they’d be utterly forgettable without the high-gloss patina of a class that he gives them.” Twenty years after playing Oskar Schindler, the 61-year-old Irish actor is the star of his own B-movie sub-genre, and in Non-Stop, he gets to take the gimmick to new heights.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, a sad air marshal whose transatlantic flight from New York to London is interrupted by a text message threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless $150 million is wired to an offshore account. Everyone is a suspect, including Marks. Might it be the pretty businesswoman with the window seat, played by Julianne Moore? The macho NYPD cop played by House of Cards‘ Corey Stoll? The other air-marshal on board, played by Anson Mount? Or is it one of the other dozen or so possible suspects? Suspense!
Reuniting Neeson with his Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra, the film also stars Downton Abbey‘s Michelle Dockery as a skeptical flight attendant, with 12 Years a Slave‘s Lupita Nyong’o also making a before-she-was-famous appearance.
Click below to see what some of the nation’s leading film critics are saying about Non-Stop before buckling in for Neeson’s latest.