It was called Non-Stop.
This is what I thought about it:
Non-Stop is a movie in which Liam Neeson, best known for his role as the lovable bandit Kegan in the 1983 super-hit Krull, plays an airplane cop who spends most of the movie texting a mysterious terrorist while the camera does its best to make the audience think action-packed stuff is going down. The camera shifts in and out of focus and shakes around a lot to give the moviegoers some insight into what it’s like to be floor-fucking drunk while trying to shoot a movie. Sometimes, text bubbles pop up on the screen to let viewers in on all the texting action and because test audiences didn’t respond well to two hours of staring at the top of an Irish man’s head. Occasionally, Maude Lebowski drops by to ask Qui Gon a question like, “What’s going on?” or “What’s happening now?” At several points in the movie, other actors, played by actors I’ve never seen before, ask the same kinds of questions. Towards the end of the movie, a villain is revealed, stuff gets resolved and for some reason Qui Gon and Maude are maybe sort of romantically interested in each other. I don’t know.
The movie was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the auteur behind House of Wax and Goal II: Living the Dream. The movie was made in 2014 and has a runtime just under the point where you start asking yourself, “How much longer is this going to last?”
In case you couldn’t tell, I liked it pretty well.
Most of the action in the movie revolves around our generically-named main character — Jack McMainguy or something similar —texting back and forth with a guy who claims he’s going to start killing passengers at a rate of one per 20 minutes until the end of the movie. That is unless McMainguy wires a billion-jillion dollars to him, in which case he’ll just forget about the whole killing people thing. It’s up to McMainguy to keep texting and looking serious and frantically searching for answers until the 90 minute mark or so. Then the movie can start wrapping things up and shuffling its audience back to the Redbox for another movie that probably stars Liam Neeson.
Non-Stop is a lot like Speed except that instead of Keanu Reeves we have someone who can act, and instead of Dennis Hopper we have a cell phone. Also, the words “pop quiz” don’t feature heavily in the characterization of the main villain, and no one calls any one else “Hot Shot” at all, which seems like a big miscalculation on the filmmakers’ part.
To give you a taste of the film, here’s a sample scene from Non-Stop:
Int. – plane: [We hear the chirp of Jack McMainguy’s phone as he receives a new text message. McMainguy crunches his stony face in concern. He knows this is going to be bad. He pulls the phone from his pocket and looks at the screen.]
PHONE: Were is my monee???????
MCMAINGUY: [texting] Who R U??????
PHONE: Dude, get me my monneee or else somone is gonna dye!!!!!!
MCMAINGUY: [texting harder] Why R U doing this?????? :((((
PHONE: U R the one doing this Jack. U prolly don’t remember that U R to blame 4 these peopel who R dying!!! :p
MCMAINGUY: [texting even harder then before. The camera spins around him as his thumbs blaze across the keyboard. The clicky clicky of his keys is totally intense.] WAAAAAAAAAAT??????!!!!!
PHONE: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL :)))))))))
JULIANNE MOORE’S CHARACTER: [Looking concerned.] What’s going on?
I’m not sure why the filmmakers thought I wanted to watch a movie about some dude texting a bunch. I get enough of that in my regular life. Like, I can’t even talk to my friends anymore because their noses are always pressed against their phone screens. I get that for free. It’s kind of silly they think I want to pay to see some dude do it for an hour and a half.
Despite all the boring texting, there’s some cool stuff in Non-Stop. Since his staring role in 2008’s monument to glorious stupidity and xenophobia, Taken, Neeson has carved a nice little niche for himself as Hollywood’s go-to intelligent badass. Dude’s one of the few actors these days who makes me want to watch whatever shitty movie he’s in because he has a cool voice. Julianne Moore does a respectable job of playing the non-character written for her. Bless her little red head, she tries her best to give her role a little character — she’s kind of fidgety and nervous and wears this ridiculous set of gigantic reading glasses in a couple of scenes. Seriously, each lens of those things is roughly the size of a grown man’s foot. They were practically a mask.
While the who-dun-it portion of the movie was entertaining, Non-Stop’s resolution isn’t all that satisfying. Plus it ends with a big, hokey special effects sequence, the quality of which just barely teeters over the right side of better than something in a SyFy Original Movie. But those movies have flying sharks and robot octopuses and fire-breathing giant spiders, so they win.
Here’s my pre-packaged movie poster quote for Non-Stop: “Non-Stop is a nonstop thrill ride that doesn’t stop until it’s over. – Adam Armour, I’m Trying to Write”