Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a burned-out veteran of the Air Marshals service. He views the assignment not as a life-saving duty, but as a desk job in the sky. However, today's flight will be no routine trip. Shortly into the transatlantic journey from New York to London, he receives a series of mysterious text messages ordering him to have the government transfer $150 million into a secret account, or a passenger will die every 20
minutes. What follows is a nail-biting cat and mouse game played at 40,000 feet, with the lives of 200 passengers hanging in the balance.
Review by Louise Keller:
Liam Neeson, with his towering frame and credible persona, is an asset to any film and here, he does his best to counter a script that's as frenetic as the camerawork. It's not all bad and there are moments of genuine tension as well as a terrifying plane crash sequence that will have you sighing with relief you are not travelling and that ensures this film is never screened as in-flight entertainment. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown), screenwriters John W. Richardson and Chris Roach have concocted a scenario that might have had legs, had it not been thwarted by too many distractions by way of character overload and red herrings. As a result, the characterisations are superficial, our investment minimal and the action beyond credibility.
The film begins well as it defines the character of Neeson's Air Marshall Bill Marks, whose jumpy demeanor, short fuse and reliance on alcohol are integral to the plot. He is a man on the edge with personal problems. The camera distortion as he views the passengers waiting to board the 6 hour flight to London is effective, depicting a creepy element.
From the moment the plane's doors close and the text demands begin for the transfer of $150 million (or else someone will die every 20 minutes), everyone becomes a suspect. The entire cast is effective: Corey Stoll as the NYPD cop, Scoot McNairy as a passenger, Omar Metwally as the Muslim doctor, Nate Parker as a computer programmer, Linus Roache and Jason Harner as pilot and co-pilot respectively. Even Anson Mount as Bill's Air Marshall colleague and Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery as the flight attendant are not exempt from suspicion, plus there is Julianne Moore, the frequent flyer who insists on a window seat as she manipulates a seat next to Bill. Moore is an appealing presence. Disappointingly, the prominently billed Lupita Nyong'o, who dazzled in her portrayal of Patsy in 12 Years a Slave, plays an incidental role with negligible screen time.
The action progressively becomes more and more ludicrous and Bill's shaky authority takes a battering as he tries to control the situation. The shifting credibility of all the characters is both the film's strength and weakness and by the time oxygen masks and air pressure levels tumble, windows explode and a crash landing is on the cards, we are rightly on the edge of our seats. It's a pity that the elements did not bond to form greater and involvement credibility - like that of the film's imposing star.
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CAST: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Anson Mount, Lupita Nyong'o, Bar Paly,
PRODUCER: Joel Silver, Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona
DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra
SCRIPT: John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Flavio Martinez Labiano
EDITOR: Jim May
MUSIC: John Ottman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alec Hammond
RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: StudioCanal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 27, 2014