In this exciting action thriller, Liam Neeson is a good, well-meaning man with deadly skills who was dealt a bad hand by life, and took it hard (with lots of drinks and reclusive-ness) and suddenly finds himself pitted against an anonymous villain with a terrible evil intent. People's lives are in danger, and Liam Neeson is their only hope.
Not specific enough for you? Well, this is the one on an airplane.
|Oh, right. The one on the airplane. Gotcha.|
Bill Marks is an ex-cop, turned Air Marshall who's afraid of flying, and likes to cover the smoke detector in the airplane's bathroom with tape so he can drink and smoke his misery away in peace. But on this flight, peace is the last thing he's gonna get -- he instead gets a new texting buddy who tells him that in twenty minutes he's going to kill someone on the plane unless he gets $150 mil. And twenty minutes later Marks knows that he's not kidding around.
It's a who-done-it in the sky; "Murder on the Airway Express" and wouldn't you know it, I'm currently into Agatha Christie, reading and watch Hercule Poirot mysteries whenever I have the spare time. So Marks may have a leg up on the world's most famous detective when it comes to beating the bad guy into a pulp, but first he has to find out who it is, and that's when I wished Poirot was on board so he could point out the right guy and let the pummeling start. Instead they have Liam running around accusing random people based on the most rudimentary evidence, and then believes or doesn't believe their defense based on even less evidence. We don't get any clues to base our guesses on either, except at least we're not blind to the clichés of the genre, and they're clues themselves -- my dad had called the bad guy even before the texts started coming in. Then he left.
|Careful! She could be the bad guy!|
When there was some pummeling going on, that was when the movie was at its best. Obviously -- this in a Liam Neeson thriller after all -- and the veteran actor's easy star-power is what held this movie together. He didn't even really seem to be trying, but his just being there was all it needed.
In the cast there was also President Coin herself, Julianne Moore, who might be the bad guy, or might be the spunky love interest; and Michelle Dockery, who might be the bad guy, or might just be a nice, kind flight attendant; and Corey Stoll (who I finally actually recognized in something besides his scene-stealing Midnight in Paris turn as Hemingway) who might be the bad guy, or, might be a trouble-causing jerk; and others, of course, who might be the villain or might be just who they seem to be. All of them are characters even more one-dimensional than Neeson's. At least it maintains the balance that way -- nothing says "this is a bad movie" better than side characters overshadowing the lead when the lead is the film's only selling point.
|Don't trust her! She could be the bad guy!|
Just to recap: so far, I've been laughing at the plot's attempts at a compelling mystery, red herrings and rabbit trails, but I'm still enjoying myself -- Neeson being his usual marketable self, and the solid, clichéd beginning practically guarantees a solid, clichéd ending.
And then, and then, things start happening. Annoying things. The laws of physics get sucked out an open airplane window. Characters start flip-flopping their opinions around at the plot's convenience. Everyone's heads get super dense as the plot stalls for time (gotta get over the hour and a half mark!). And the cherry on top; Politics comes into play, and tries to pose difficult moral questions to confuse and distract us. Plus the special effects were cheap, and that's just... cheap.
|Also they totally steal the "texts show up on the screen for easy viewing by the audience" trick from Sherlock. I should get over that one though -- it's a useful trick.|
But the film ended on a positive note for me, so I guess I will too.
*Tries very hard to think of a play on words involving "positive" and "note."*
Okay fine, I'll be legit about it.
The obligatory "awesome" moment of the climax was laughable, but it also redeemed the film; setting it back on the path of the cheesy and the hammy (and the not-annoying) for the duration of the flight. In the end, there wasn't much to this movie that we haven't seen before -- even performed by the exact same leading man, but it left me with a smile on my face. And maybe that smile was there because I managed to enjoy the movie overall, in spite of its clichéd ridiculousness, or maybe it was because of one little detail that may or may not be considered a spoiler.
One thing's for sure:
I'm positive that this film didn't have any notes at all -- it was texts!