Friday, 28 February 2014

Review: Non-Stop

World of Blackout Film Review

Non-Stop Poster

Cert: 12A / 106 mins / Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra
WoB Rating: 5/7

The advertising campaign for the latest Liam Neeson action-thriller has a 'suggested' hashtag at the bottom of the posters. Certainly not unusual in this day and age, and when you consider that hashtagging #nonstop would lead to all manner of subjects bleeding into the searched-thread, it makes sense to gather the buzz from the movie under another umbrella. So Studio Canal have gone with the rather magnificent #NonStopNeeson. I say magnificent because since I read it on a bus-stop three weeks ago, I can't get the image out of my mind of a 1970's vinyl party-album, consisting of pop/jazz/swing cover versions sang by Liam himself, wearing some manner of corduroy smoking-jacket on the cover: Non-Stop Neeson! And now I want this album to exist. Has anyone got Liam's number?

Anyhow, I know what you're thinking: "Just how is the latest LN 'grizzled man in a black jacket' gruntathon?" My answer would be 'surprisingly watchable, actually'. It's by no means a perfect film, and it's not necessarily a highlight for the genre nor Neeson himself, but it's very competent in what it's actually doing: ie, creating a twisty-turny thriller with claustrophobic atmosphere. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's especially well written, but it's certainly well made. There's nothing new about the performances we get here, with the possible exception of Scoot McNairy who's going to be a fine character actor when he gets the chance to climb up the ladder a little. Neeson growls, Moore winces, Dockery looks permanently stunned, and yet the whole thing works better than many in its class, at least for the first half.

What starts as a solid 'the guests, all strangers to each other, are assembled in a house, and then the murders begin' progressively builds and weaves an interesting, aviatory whodunnit. Naturally, in this post-911 age*1, things get ramped up when the film becomes a race against the clock (literally. you have to have a red-LED clicking down or there's no. tension.), layered with a few arch comments about the state of the post-911 age. This second-half is more what I was expecting the entire film to be, but while it's more pedestrian, it's still undeniably tense.

Oh, and fair play to them, they've worked in Liam's character being born in Belfast before moving to the USA at some unspecified point, so you don't have to worry about his wandering accent for the entire film: it's meant to sound like that. If only they'd do that for Sam Worthington, eh? Perseus: Son of Zeus. Place of birth: Australia*2

Go in expecting Bryan Mills, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. Go in expecting Henri Ducard, and you might not be...


Is the trailer representative of the film?
I enjoyed the film more than that trailer.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Mostly, yes I did. Although I may well have laughed a couple of times more than the makers intended, too.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
In some ways, yes.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
Cinema or DVD. There is something nice about it on a massive screen....

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
At some point, probably.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
I didn't hear one.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
If you were anywhere and you saw Liam Neeson in a black jacket and looking like he's got a hangover, you'd be shitting yourself, wouldn't you?

*1 That's not a criticism, by the way. The central conceit of the film is that we're in the post-911 age. Although it is laid on quite heavily.
*2 Yes, fact-fans, I know that Worthington was born in England; but that accent wasn't ;)

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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