Rated: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 46.
Our content advisories (1-10): Violence 3; Language 4; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our Star rating (1-5): 2.5
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous,
you who test the minds and hearts,
O righteous God.
Liam Neeson, he with the soulful eyes, has made quite a career for himself since his outstanding performance in Schindler’s List, as the middle-aged wounded hero placed in an impossible position. Situations such as the father and estranged daughter, and then wife, in Taken and Taken 2. Now he is Federal Air Marshall Bill Marks, emotionally crippled by the death of his daughter some years back, and thus requiring a hefty drink to begin his day. Unkempt with his facial stubble, he is going through the motions of his job as he boards a London-bound night flight. We know there is still a spark of humanity in his burnt-out soul when he retrieves a little girl’s left behind Teddy bear and coaxes the fearful child to step aboard the plane.
Once in the air, the suspense and action live up to the film’s title, providing its double meaning. Adding to the story is Julianne Moore’s Jen Summers, who switches to the window seat beside Marks. When Marks receives a series of anonymous text messages demanding the airline to pay $150m to a numbered account or a passenger will die every 20 minutes, she is the only passenger to stand by him when it becomes likely that he is a hijacker out to enrich himself.
Tense moment follows tense moment as Marks attempts to figure out who the person is. Matters keep getting more complicated with dead bodies piling up and the passengers getting ready to take matters into their own hands, similar to those who fought against the suicide bombers controlling Flight 93 in the film of that name. Because of his past drinking and the misleading information sent out by the anonymous texter, Marks’ superiors lose faith in him. That leaves only Jen to trust—and yet, why did she arrange to sit next to him?
Nothing very profound in director Jaume Collet-Serra’s nail-biter. Just almost two hours of non-stop tension that leads to an exciting, explosive climax.