Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is not a good father let alone a person these days, he drinks, smokes and tends to come across as a very unhappy and angry at the world. As a United States Air Marshal he is very observant of his surroundings yet many of his associates think he is paranoid and unworthy of carrying a gun on or off a plane.
He boards a British Atlantic Airliner destined for London, sits in first class next to Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) a middle-aged woman with a story to tell and life to live to the fullest. In front of him is Zack White (Nate Parker) a cell phone programmer with a bit of an attitude that has no problem expressing his issues aloud. A young girl, Becca (Quinn McColgan) is flying over-seas for the first time and alone to be with her father and if not for the help of Bill she may have never stepped foot on the plane. That may not have been a bad thing when you see what soon happens aboard this flight filled with one hundred and fifty people.
When Bill begins to receive text messages that until one hundred and fifty million dollars is wired into a designated bank account a person on the plane will die every twenty minutes. Everyone becomes suspect during this flight, Tom Bowen (Scoot McNairy) the school teacher, Austin Reilly (Corey Stroll) the policeman, Dr. Fahim Nasir (Omar Metwally) the scientist, Travis Mitchell (Corey Hawkins) the loud mouth, Charles Wheeler (Frank Deal) the banker, amongst many others. It’s a big plane filled with innocent people flying over the Atlantic at five hundred miles per hour with no chance of turning around or landing at a nearby airport any time soon.
Bill is asked if he is ready to do his duty and based on the rest of the flight time he has no choice since people are dying and the entire plane is in danger. Nancy (Michelle Dockery) a flight attendant is doing her best to keep it together as is her fellow attendant Gwen (Lupita Nyong’o) but no one is safe not even the pilot David McMillan (Linus Roache) or co-pilot Kyle Rice (Jason Butler Harner) and at thirty five thousand feet in the air there is nowhere to go. Matters tend to get even worse when Bill himself becomes a suspected terrorist in a very close resemblance to what happened on September 11. Time is running out, the people on the plane are in panic and dying but matters escalate even higher when they begin to find out exactly what the circumstances are leaving them no choice but to have faith that their future lies in one man and a damn strong seatbelt.
I thought the film was quite suspenseful and directed well but a bit under-developed with some of the characters including Neeson. Of course there is not much to look at other than the walls and seats of a plane so it is up to the writers to put together a worthy script and they do for the most part. Although there are many clichés and stereotypical references the story still holds strong and leaves you guessing on who is the actual terrorist at thirty thousand feet.
Neeson once again does a phenomenal job being the main character and focus of all the drama. He proves over and over that even though he is type casted for the most part he still makes the role his own and proves he is truly an actor of substance. Moore is a bit under-used for the most part but brings some true inner meaning to her characters role. Dockery was a strong force to be reckoned with yet Nyong’o was almost obsolete which is odd for an actress nominated for an Oscar this year. Metwally is type-casted but comes across with a strong conviction in the end. Stoll, Parker, Rice and McNairy all are a great support to the suspense as is the token young child, McColgan, who tries to pull on the audience heart strings. Anson Mount who plays Jack Hammond stirs up a lot of trouble in the story but comes across a bit forced with is character. Overall I did enjoy this film right down to the explosive ending. It took a somewhat realistic look at what could happen if faced in a situation on a plane like that of the one Air Marshal Bill Marks is secretly trying to protect. Written and enjoyed with two and half paws out of four by Jon Patch.