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By Vernor Rodgers
Find out where it's playing http://moviefone.com/

"NON-STOP"
This is a horror element that the movie industry likes to employ. A person authorized to wear a badge and carry a firearm has a seriously messed up or tragically altered personal life, making great potential for dangerous instability. Such is the case with Liam Neeson’s Bill Marks in the thriller “Non-Stop.” Bill is first seen sitting in his vehicle with the look of a person gloomily dreading another day of work. He needs a bracer of hard liquor to help him cope. The kicker here is that Bill is a U.S. Air Marshal, his workplace being commercial aircraft in which he is tasked with thwarting terrorism or any other unlawful activity.

Neeson has found a niche in recent years of portraying men who have resigned themselves to the fact that the profession in which they are engaged – and superbly so – requires violence and dedication that often kills any semblance of a normal life. And certainly being an air marshal – a job wherein if you have to spring into action it means you are dealing with some very dangerous people – is not the kind of work for someone who prefers a routine if occasionally stressful occupation.

Assigned to a flight to London, Bill is already irked about the prospect of being stuck in England for three days before being able to return to the United States. Yet despite that irritation, once he is in the airport he begins his work, scoping out fellow passengers, looking for any sign of possible trouble.

On board before take-off he goes into the lavatory and puts duct tape over the smoke alarm so he can enjoy a cigarette. Then later, when the passenger sitting next to him, Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), notices his anxiety, he confesses that he gets nervous when the aircraft takes off. Then he can settle down.  But settling down is not going to be possible on this flight.

He receives an anonymous text, via what is supposed to be a secure network, stating that if $150 million is not transferred to a certain off-shore account in 20 minutes, someone on board the airliner will be killed, with another person killed every 20 minutes until the funds transfer is confirmed. Additional texts taunt Bill, detailing personal information about Bill’s life, leading him to believe his on-board air marshal partner, Jack Hammond (Anson Mount), is pulling off a sick joke. Hammond convinces him otherwise but insists that Bill keep cool because the threat is likely a hoax.

The script by John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach and Ryan Engle is at its best at this point as Bill tries to locate the person delivering the threat while also arranging with the pilot to have the ransom transferred to the designated account, only to find himself outflanked by the plotter, making it look like Bill is the actual person attempting to hijack the plane.

Of course there are several potential suspects and none of them can be ruled out for certain, so the suspense builds nicely. Unfortunately, “Non-Stop” falls victim to a problem that deflates a lot of effective thrillers, and that is once the bad guy is revealed there has to be an obligatory pause in the action as that person reveals a motivation for the crime. Rather than having the standard reasons for the threats and murders such as terrorism, extortion or greed, the screenwriting trio tried to get clever with what they thought might be a unique twist. But it is so ludicrous that it prompts eye-rolling and almost derails the movie.

Fortunately, the nail-biting final sequence of whether the imperiled aircraft will survive helps put the movie back on track.

Neeson carries this movie, nailing yet again a portrayal of a man who must set aside his personal demons and tragedies and be strong when so many people are depending on him. Most of the supporting cast, including Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), does not get much to do. Moore has a few good moments as the enigmatic Jen Summers, as well as Corey Stull as a passenger who looks like he could be capable of committing violent acts against people.

Airline thrillers have the advantage of being heart-pounding action with the confined spaces, the high speed and altitude and potential for nasty conclusions. It’s too bad the writers tried too hard with a key plot element, but “Non-Stop” does mostly succeed as an adrenalin-pulsing movie.

"NON-STOP" Offical Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiHDJ19A3dk



"3 DAYS TO KILL"
Kevin Costner has been popping up lately, following his key role in the miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” with a supporting role in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and a lead role in the upcoming NFL drama “Draft Day.” And now he is the star power behind the silly but fun “3 Days to Kill.”

With a script by Luc Besson (“The Transporter,” “The Fifth Element”), co-written with Adi Hasak, viewers can expect a few sub-plot elements here and there to provide some special touches to a standard story.

In “3 Days to Kill,” we have Costner as Ethan Renner, an aging international spy - although he seems to do more killing than spying - in the twilight of his career. Having spent years putting his life on the line while making the world safer for us, his private life has become a shambles. He is estranged from his wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld from “True Grit”) and is hardly living an upper-class lifestyle.

As one of his missions unravels into a disaster, he also discovers he has health issues-- of the worst kind. He has terminal cancer.
He travels to Paris with the intent of spending whatever time he has left reconciling with Christine and Zoey and having some semblance of family life.

Unfortunately, his employer, the CIA, is not quite done with him. An operative named Vivi Delay (yes, Vivi Delay), played by Amber Heard, is dispatched to Europe to lead a mission to kill The Wolf (Richard Sammel, the German soldier captured and then beaten to death with a baseball bat by Eli Roth’s Donny Donowitz in “Inglorious Basterds”), one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. Ethan is the agent assigned to do the dirty work.

Expecting Renner to be reluctant to accept this one final mission, Vivi offers him an incentive-- a drug that has not been FDA endorsed but might slow down the cancer and extend his life if he accepts the job.

Aside from Costner’s scruffy but charismatic presence, “3 Days to Kill” adds some touches that add substance to the usual spy thriller. Among them is Ethan’s relationship with a family of squatters and a volatile interaction with a driver in a chauffeur business who can provide key information on The Wolf and his associates but who also as a father of twin teen daughters, can share some parental wisdom with Ethan.

There is the usual strained father-daughter relationship, allowing Steinfeld to be the pouty, embittered teen who calls her father “Ethan” instead of “Dad,” and the inevitable clumsy goof-ups by Ethan but eventual winning over of Zoey. Luckily, Steinfeld is a talented young actress who makes Zoey a sympathetic girl struggling to understand why Ethan was never around, and she and Costner work well together.

On the down side, Heard’s Vivi is unbelievable. In what should have been a typical role of a bureaucratic delegator, Vivi is a high-profile operative who appears to be living lavishly at taxpayers’ expense, speeding around Paris - and attracting a lot of attention - in an expensive sports car, and popping up occasionally to prod Ethan to finish his mission and inject him with the potential wonder drug.

The villains do not get much time to make the viewers hate them. The Wolf and one of his associates known as The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis) spend most of their screen time fleeing from Renner.

Ethan and The Wolf do have a stare-down before the usual shootout of lots of bullets flying but no hits on the intended targets.
But once viewers shrug off those shortcomings, they can find “3 Days to Kill” an entertaining if implausible action film.

"3 DAYS TO KILL" Offical Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yswZKfnmf7c



"THE LEGO MOVIE"
His name is Emmet and he is blissfully content in his regimented life as a construction worker. Within this comfort zone he has no idea of his lack of creativity and free choice. He is a prime candidate to be thrown into a situation that will challenge him-- and he will stumble along. This is a familiar story line but the catch is that Emmet is a Lego mini-figure in a Lego world in the aptly named “The Lego Movie.”

The movie is the brain-child of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, writing a script based on the story by Dan and Kevin Hageman. It is what one would expect from the current trend in animated features-- a simple story line aimed at providing a message for young viewers but with a lot of touches that only adults, especially those who grew up with Lego products, could appreciate.

“The Lego Movie” begins with a back story in which the wise Vitruvius (voice of Morgan Freeman) is overtaken by the ambitious Lord Business (Will Ferrell), with Vitruvius issuing a prophecy in which a chosen one will find the Piece of Resistance that will foil the plans of Lord Business.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is then introduced, part of a population of mini-figures that has been brainwashed to follow instructions on every aspect of their lives. Then fate steps in when he encounters WildStyle (Elizabeth Banks) foraging around a construction site-- violating the instructions. But in his pursuit of WildStyle, Emmet falls into a hole and comes in contact with the Piece of Resistance. WIldStyle, witnessing this, helps Emmet - now with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back - escape as he is pursued by the Lord Business-backed police force led by Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson).

Believing Emmet is the chosen one, possibly a MasterBuilder, WildStyle takes Emmet to Vitruvius and other MasterBuilders now living in exile. Although Vitruvius is steadfast in his belief Emmet is indeed the chosen one to help topple Lord Business, the other MasterBuilders are more skeptical. And naturally, Emmet makes one mistake after another as Lord Business continues to increase an advantage in the quest to carry out his diabolical plan.

While all this is going on, there are so many background details that will keep the viewers alert. The animation, all CGI with an attempt to make it seem like stop-action, is gorgeous and busy, with lots of references not only to the ever-expanding Lego product line, but to other aspects of modern life. That, along with a multitude of colorful characters, makes “The Lego Movie” a visual feast, covering a major objective of animated features-- enough stimuli to please both children and adults.

"THE LEGO MOVIE" Offical Trailer:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ_JOBCLF-I

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