March 2, 2014
At the wheel is director Jaume Collet-Serra, a director who's offerings have been inconsistent, having helmed the decent House of Wax restart, the poor Unknown, and the excellent Orphan. Screenplay duties fell to John W. Alexander and Chris Roach (whose filmography consists primarily of television fare), and newcomer Ryan Engle. Together they have crafted a movie that is involving but does not require total immersion, an effective slice of actiony entertainment.
It does not take long for us to be introduced to our main character, nor is it long to wait and learn that our hero is haunted by demons from his past. We watch as Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) adds whiskey to his coffee and looks at a picture of his daughter. He then gathers his things and heads into the airport. This is executed rather nicely as the editing takes us around the terminal following Mark's gaze, everyone painted as a potential threat. It something threat that goes with his job, wary of everyone around him.
He settles into his seat on the plane, an aisle seat next to window seat lover, Jen (Julianne Moore). Shortly after takeoff, Marks begins receiving ominous texts asking for a $150 million or someone will die every twenty minutes. This kicks off a tense game of cat and mouse as Marks tries to uncover who the villain is. He enlists aid from the two people he can trust, Jen and a familiar flight attendant named Nancy (Michelle Dockery). Everything continues to build until the big reveal, complete with talkative bad guy and a big red timer. Still, we all know how this is going to end, it is about the execution, knowing how it will end does not really hurt overall enjoyment.
Collet-Serra does a good job using the location. Airplanes offer a nice confined space where no one can get away. This combined with Liam Neeson's effortless ability to play a completely convincing badass help elevate familiar material. Overall, it is a movie to enjoy. I liked the use of demons for Marks and some plot misdirections to keep you guessing. The only possible misstep is during the reveal with the injection of real world politics into the mix. Seems like someone wanted to get a message in there. Didn't bother me much, seemed to fit, and afforded us the cliched talky bad guy.
So, for a movie built on cliches, it is executed well and is aided by a strong, or at least easily convincing, lead performance. It is fun, well paced, and never boring. It may not be a movie that is destined to be remembered, but that does not stop it from being a good movie for this moment, and sometimes that is all we really need.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 3/02/2014 06:01:00 PM
Labels: 2010s, 2014, Action, Jaume Collet-Serra, Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Movie Review, Theatrical Release, Thriller
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.