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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Non-Stop Blu-ray Review

Does Liam Neeson ever get tired of kicking ass? Apparently, he's just getting started.

After filling his resume with the likes of Darkman, Schindler's List, Love Actually, Kinsey and countless others, Neeson has spent the last six years or so becoming a bonafide action star. And audiences really seem to like that. Just the Taken flicks alone have raked in over $600 million at the box office. Yes, there's a third one of those on the way, but don't expect this train to slow down between now and that 2015 release. Instead, we get Non-Stop.

Non-Stop isn't just how I'd describe Neeson's endless parade of action flicks. It's his latest collaboration with his Unknown director, Jaume Collet-Serra. It's also pretty entertaining.

Neeson plays a guy who has been driven to drink. Can you really blame him, after all of the crap he's had to endure in his last few movies?

 Liam Neeson tries to keep everyone on the plane calm -- and alive -- in "Non-Stop." Photo: © 2013 Universal Pictures.

Here, he's Bill Marks, an unstable U.S. federal air marshal. If Bill knew the day that was in store, he probably would have stayed on the ground -- or at least skipped the pre-flight cocktail. Shortly into a direct flight from New York to London, Bill discovers that one of the plane's passengers is on to him. He knows that Bill has been smoking on the plane, knows his occupation, and knows about his daughter. Even worse, he's taunting him with all of this information via text message. Of course, it's not just a game. Well, it sort of is, because the mystery texter plans to taunt Bill even further by killing passengers every 20 minutes until he gets $150 million wired into an account.

Why not just land the plane? Well, there's a bomb on board, silly. Non-Stop has covered some of the bases. And while you try to point out all of the other unbelievable moments in the film, Bill works on solving the mystery and the bomber works on making Bill look crazy to everyone on board -- and pretty much everyone on the ground as well.

Non-Stop gets topical at the end to bring purpose to the whole film and doesn't exactly charter any new territory for the action genre, but does it really matter? It puts Neeson back in a position of power and he's fun to watch, as is his stellar supporting cast, which includes Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Anson Mount and Lupita Nyong'o.

The Picture
Liam Neeson has a proven track record with these action flicks -- and not just when it comes to the box-office take. Just like many of his other releases, the image on this one is pretty fantastic. Skintones are spot-on, Julianne Moore's red hair and freckles stand out beautifully, and Liam Neeson's facial lines are quite prominent. However, it's not just the actors that look great in this 2.40 image. Despite the plane's overwhelming bluish tint, the film has great black levels, a nice contrast, and a ton of detail to ogle. The opening shot's raindrops on the car, the texts that keep popping up, the walls of the plane, and more; Non-Stop is non-stop fun to watch.

The Sound
Universal has given Non-Stop an equally entertaining DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track to accompany the sharp image. The film has a lot of action, but never drowns out dialogue or all of the sounds you'd expect from air travel. That includes the immersive sounds of the engine and landing gear during take-off, all the way down to the dings throughout the flight and the general hum of the plane in mid-flight. Of course, explosions and gun fire also play a big part in this action-packed track. It's a fun one.

The Extras
The extras for Non-Stop are quick and disappointing. However, you have to wonder how many things Liam Neeson has to say about his action flicks at this point. The two featurettes clock in at a combined 13 minutes and offer little beyond interview snippets and clips of the movie.

Final Thoughts
There are plenty of movies that deliver terror at 40,000 feet. Non-Stop certainly isn't the best of the lot, but it's not bad either. It's not all that believable (like Taken was?), but Liam Neeson continues to be an entertaining action star and pairing him with Julianne Moore and the rest of the excellent cast elevates it a little. The crop of extras is probably the most disappointing part of this release, but the AV presentation makes for a fun 105 minutes.

Product Details
Actors: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount, Lupita Nyong'oDirector: Jaume Collet-SerraAudio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), DTS 5.1 (French, Spanish), DVS 2.0 (English)Subtitles: English SDH, French, SpanishAspect Ratio: 2.40:1Number of Discs: 2Rating: PG-13Studio: UniversalBlu-ray Disc Release Date: June 10, 2014Run Time: 105 minutesList Price: $35.99Extras: Non-Stop ActionSuspense at 40,000 FeetBD-LiveStandard-Def DVDDigital CopyUltraViolet Digital Copy

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