"Some things you never get used to.*"
(28 February 2014) Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
*Like why they always give away the best parts in the trailer (HOW I WISH I had not seen that zero-gravity gun part), I really enjoyed it. I just would have thought it was so much cooler if I hadn't already seen 1) the bomb explode and 2) the gun floating. It takes away from the movie as a whole. For example, if a woman wears a diamond necklace with a beautiful dress, when seen together it's an outfit. When you show the necklace first, it's as if when you finally see her, it's just a dress. You've seen the diamonds already, so you're underwhelmed. At least here, we have Mr. Liam Neeson . . .
Mr. Neeson is a very observant Air Marshall who's grieving for his child who died of cancer, and is drinking on the job. He smokes in the airplane bathroom and asks the stewardess for gin when she knows who he is and that he cannot drink. Into this scenario, enter a loser, who for some reason that really isn't important, has a vendetta, and his idea of how to get back at America (or something, who cares? gimme money) is to bring down a plane full of people with a bomb. To accomplish this, he doesn't care if he dies himself, even though he brings along a partner and 2 parachutes. The partner sure cares though. And Liam Neeson cares. They play cat and mouse, and Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery try to help Neeson's character "Marshall Bill Marks" find out who is taunting him via text messages on a secure phone.
So, "How do you kill someone on board a crowded plane and get away with it?" In the lavatory, where else? A lot takes place in the lavatory and when Neeson has his Action Movie staple 'close-quarters fight' it's impressive. He's 6' 4" and even though he's 61 years old in real life, when he punches with those enormous hands of his, it's for keeps. He's incredibly agile and totally convincing in all the physicality this role demands. Age is not a factor, so any critics who say it is are just looking for faults—I found none. He's 'Action Jackson' here so don't mess with him!
In the scene where he's appealing to the stewardess for help, Neeson gives a very compelling performance. He's totally immersed in the character and we feel for him in his situation and root for him to outwit the bad guy(s). It is scary to imagine what could happen on board any plane at any time. Not only is the lavatory close quarters, the whole thing is a bit claustrophic, because, really, where are you gonna go? Control is an illusion . . .
The movie's pacing delivers old-fashioned tension like the Hitchcock films Neeson and Moore likened it to in pre-movie interviews. The comic relief is also good: "Isn't there like a wire you can cut?", When the Muslim doctor smiles a little after setting the cop's nose, and "You gave me an unloaded weapon?!"
If you've flown, you know never get used to the idea of a bomb possibly going off and part of the framework ripping away, and your chair getting sucked out. Although that's been done a lot, they make great use of it here. The bomb explosion is impressive, appropriately timed and placed, and I found that refreshing. It made it more of a movie than an action movie, but it's a good movie. There was the Holy Crap! factor without it being ridiculous. There was no gratuitous action.
The villain's September 11th "3,000 people died that day" speech about Security being this country's biggest lie. The amount of ingenuity in the bad guys creating this plot to frame the Air Marshall did not equal their planning what to do if it went wrong, or in their planning how to get out. You have to wonder what would have happened when the #2 guy suddenly realized his boss was willing to die.
Bringing it all to a close is one hell of a crash landing. We've all become aware of the importance of the skill of the pilot in an emergency situation through real-life incidents, and the depiction of the crash landing here is Oscar worthy!
At the end they tell Neeson's character: "And Bill, we're gonna need that money back . . ."
To which he replies "What money?" And at that moment I so wished that he really needed the money very badly and that there was some way for him to get away with keeping it for all that he'd been through, like it was untraceable. They were going to shoot him down, didn't listen to what he said, and hung him out to dry from the get go. In spite of all that, he persevered and saved the day. It could have been like Shawshank Redemption, or F/X, or Rough Cut, a Buddy Movie, where he and Julianne Moore collaborate and come out ahead!
(sigh) We love it when our Action Movie heroes get to keep all the cash! That's a fantasy, beyond the good guy hero who saves the day, that we keep coming back for and would watch over and over again. (Hint: We're more likely to own a movie like that.)
KEY & PEELE "WHAT ABOUT NON-STOP THOUGH"
87Eleven Action Design
| Chad Stahelski + David Leitch
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