Similar to 3 Days to Kill, this is a film where the hero is an aging, alcoholic man with lost hopes and dreams. These guys mirror the fantasies of most male trial lawyers!
With a script that is tragically flawed and woefully overcooked, the abilities of Liam Neeson make this film borderline entertaining. Mr. Neeson is an alcoholic Federal Air Marshal who is dancing on the edge of a psychotic breakdown. To complicate matters, he ends up on a transatlantic flight to London where a terrorist makes him the fall guy in a hijacking plot.
The strength of the film is derived from the fact that you really don’t know the identity of the terrorist until late in the film. While that involves some intrigue, it’s hard to root for Neeson as he struggles to identify the bad guys.
Though Mr. Neeson is 61, he has ample experience imitating a human Superman. One dimensional and devoid of any sense of humor, he embraces tragedy with the same single-minded determination that he brought to The Grey (2011) and the regrettable Taken films (2008 and 2012).
To be quite frank, the profound weakness of the film flows from the fact that Neeson has no problem literally kicking the living crap out of many unfortunate innocent passengers as he works his way to the enemy. His chain-smoking must have induced a brain aneurysm that caused him to view Constitutional rights as nothing more than regrettable impediments, and he becomes a dedicated prick on a mission.
The film is helped by a small performance from the talented Julianne Moore, a passenger initially sitting next to Neeson. Like everyone else on the plane, she has her own issues, and you literally don’t know if she is friend or foe.
To give you an idea of the film’s need for attention, they readily advertise Lupita Nyong’o as playing one of the plane’s flight attendants. However, the Oscar winner’s (12 Years a Slave) role is far smaller than Robert DeNiro’s contribution in American Hustle, and he intelligently refused to be identified as a member of the cast.
Mr. Neeson has played some fabulous parts over the years, which include Schindler’s List (1993); Rob Roy (1995); Michael Collins (1996) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Furthermore, he would be the last guy who I would criticize for any reason given the tragic recent death of his wife, Natasha Richardson. However, when you see him in an action film released in February, recent history suggests that you should enter the theater at your own risk.