By Vernor Rodgers
Find out where it's playing
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
of his missions unravels into a disaster, he also discovers
he has health issues-- of the worst kind. He has terminal
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
and The Wolf do have a stare-down before the usual shootout
of lots of bullets flying but no hits on the intended
But once viewers shrug off those
shortcomings, they can find “3 Days to Kill” an entertaining
if implausible action film.
"3 DAYS TO KILL"
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.”
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.
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.
(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).
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.
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.