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1. Liam Neeson
At this point, the equation is simple: Liam Neeson + January/February release date = Crazy good time at the movies. Neeson has really evolved into the 2010s equivalent of what Harrison Ford was in the mid-90s. Now we just need to wait for Neeson to get his equivalent of The Fugitive (i.e. critically lauded blockbuster and multiple Oscar nominee). Will that movie be Non-Stop? Maybe not, but it could certainly be his Air Force One. Neeson plays an air marshal who must thwart a terrorist attempt from an unknown assailant (a texter!) while in mid-flight. Only it starts to look more and more like he's the guilty party. Classic setup. Now just wind Neeson up and watch him go.
2. The Ticking Clock
Look, if you're going to go the "THERE'S A BOMB ON THIS PLANE!" route, might as well bring out all the big guns. So to speak. That means a bona fide ticking clock, and Non-Stop has not one but TWO. Twenty minutes until the attacker kills another passenger. Plus, yes, an explosive device with a good, old-fashioned digital display on it. Tick-tock.
3. Texting On Screen Continues to Evolve
With so much of the plot wrapped up in Neeson's characters getting text messages from the killer, finding a way to dramatize texting becomes quite important. We've been seeing this more and more in movies -- filmmakers needing to find visually interesting ways to depict texting. Even the popcorniest movies can sometimes have a impact on the craft of filmmaking, so it's worth keeping an eye on.
3. The Supporting Cast
Gotta love a cheesy popcorn flick that cares to stock its pantry with some top-notch acting talent. Julianne Moore, for one thing. Julianne Moore in hipster glasses! Plus Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery as a stewardess, Linus Roache as the pilot, and brief glimpses of Corey Stoll (House of Cards), Scoot McNairy (Argo), and Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave). That is one talented Coach section.
5. Liam Neeson. Shooting a gun. On a plane. In mid-leap.
Just … how is anyone expected to resist that?