Liam Neeson has perfected the tough guy image with such impunity that it’s difficult not to take him seriously even in the most outlandish of premises. At sixty, an age his looks barely adhere to, it’s safe to say he’s taken the mantle of grizzled older guy from Clint Eastwood without missing a beat. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine this was the same guy who played Oskar Schindler years ago.
The plot plays out something like an Agatha Christie novel by the way of an Alfred Hitchcock screenplay adapted by whoever’s been making those Liam Neeson action movies in the past five years. A washed out Air Marshall, Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), takes a transatlantic flight bound for London; however his fear of flying and personal issues are the least of his worries once the plane is off the runway. He receives a message on a secure network accessible only to certain people on the plane which states that unless $150 Million are transferred to a bank account within the next twenty minutes someone on the plane will die and every twenty minutes after unless the transaction is completed. With no opportunity to turn the aircraft around or land anywhere nearby, Bill has to rely on the few allies he has onboard to try and locate the killer. But the real twist arrives when it’s discovered that the account number provided is in Bill’s name and the suspicion creeps up; is Bill actually the mastermind behind the whole thing or is simply the product of his deranged mind?
The movie’s “high-concept” approach to the material hinges on the ability to restrict Bill’s movements and intelligence to the claustrophobic confines of the plane. With the needle of suspicion pointing at plenty of suspects, the movie takes it’s time in pulling you in, while you’d be laying bets on the identity of the killer. Marks’ state of mind and some deaths resulting directly from his efforts offer enough fuel to keep the fires of doubt burning. However once the movie starts descending towards offering closure, things get out of hand very quickly and a highly improbable resolution is presented.
John Ottoman’s background score compliments the proceedings perfectly while Flavio Martínez Labiano expertly uses the cramped locations of the plane, bathing in hues of eerie blue light against the darkness at times; creating a menacing quality about the ongoing mystery.
Liam Neeson’s gnarly and grizzled performance coupled with a highly enjoyable if entirely superfluous setup makes this an enjoyable watch for much of its running length. Only nose-diving and crash landing in its highly senseless ending more akin to the ‘Taken’ series than anything Christie or Hitchcock have conjured.