Years ago, I read a review in which the writer rightly insisted that when you like a given film, it doesn't really matter if the plot is full of holes.
I liked "Non-Stop." A lot.
So I wasn't bothered by the storyline, which is gripping, outlandish, murky, complex and sometimes nonsensical.
Liam Neeson plays an air marshal working to solve a mystery and save lives in “Non-Stop.”
Julianne Moore (left)’s character in “Non-Stop” is one of few passengers who want to help the air marshal (Liam Neeson, right) when lives are threatened on their flight.
The vigorously promoted Liam Neeson vehicle concerns an air marshal who, on an overnight flight, gets a text insisting that someone on board will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a certain bank account.
Major problem: this account is in the marshal's name.
Fingers continue pointing at him as promised deaths begin to mount, and soon everyone - including passengers and the TSA - assumes that the marshal himself has hijacked the plane.
Now you and I know Liam Neeson wouldn't do this, and the script wisely gives us two characters - played to perfection by Julianne Moore and "Downton Abbey's" Michelle Dockery - who likewise trust the man.
While Moore and Dockery are almost too good for this sort of thriller, it's Neeson's baby, and I think I understand now why he connects so thoroughly with viewers. The man is physically large and self-assured; few have a problem believing he could save the world, or at least an endangered transatlantic flight.
Yet lurking just beneath this superman exterior is an enormous vulnerability - like he's been gutted by some terrible tragedy (not hard to guess, in this particular case).
In a sense, this makes him the ultimate good guy: He's as tough as we'd like to be, but just as busted up inside as most of us feel a lot of the time.
The formula is simple: You like Neeson, you like the film - and plot holes be damned.
There sure are plenty of them in "Non-Stop."
To pick out a few without spoiling much: I'd like to know how the crook managed to foresee Neeson's every move (even to the timing!), why the engine gave out near the end and why the pilot wouldn't tell anyone the truth about his need to descend.
Regarding this issue, one assumes his jet escort didn't want him flying down into "civilian air space" where the plane might be used as a weapon, as on 9-11; but what civilian target would possibly be in danger over the ocean 200 miles from Iceland?
Worst of all, the motivations of the actual villain are both ridiculous and poorly explained despite the usual self-righteous and unconvincing monologue while everyone is about to die.
And the coda is too cute.
But honestly, the film is so thoroughly absorbing and suspenseful that I really didn't care about most of this. I actually came close to applause when the nerve-rattling ordeal finally ended.
Come to think of it, "Taken" was pretty outlandish too, but that film had no trouble grabbing viewers and I think Neeson fans can safely board this ride as well.
3 stars out of 4.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some language, sensuality and drug references.