Just why Liam Neeson has reinvented himself as an action hero is his own business, but whereas at one time Bruce Willis was the man to go to if you needed someone butch to outwit the baddies, now Neeson is the actor of choice.
Here he is being all mean and moody as Air Marshal Bill Marks, who finds he has not one, but a whole plane full of terrorist suspects when, during a transatlantic flight, he starts to receive text messages saying a passenger will die every 20 minutes unless he does exactly what the messages tell him to do. Marks is having none of that, but who on the plane is sending the messages, how many people are in on the plot and can he stop his passengers from becoming hysterical and doing something rash mid-Atlantic?
He decides to trust the passenger sitting next to him (Julianne Moore) and one of the flight attendants he already knows (Michelle Dockery with very dodgy accent), and ropes them in to assist; but it seems whatever he comes up with to put the killer off, they are always one jump ahead of him.
From hereon in the plot goes very pear-shaped with diverse strands including a huge bag of illicit cocaine stashed on board and a Muslim doctor who could be one of the bad guys or a hero.
Neeson strides manfully down the aisle between First Class and steerage with a big worry crease between his brow, while passengers duly die right on cue. Just what Julianne Moore is there for is anyone’s guess – maybe she just came along for the ride? – and the only moment of terror or real action is right at the end. Even if you are a nervous flier there is very little here to get the adrenaline pumping – it’s less ‘non-stop’ and more ‘never really gets off the ground’.
Neeson used to make gritty, intense dramas such as Schindler’s List, Michael Collins and Gangs of New York and it would be great to see him return to some real acting.
But before that we get him in Taken 3.