Photo: Universal StudiosNon-Stop
One of the things about it being just a small group of guys with flying lessons and box-cutters hijacking two jumbo jets into the World Trade Center, is that it's opened up who exactly Hollywood might contrive as a possible jacker in its movies. There is a sense that it was going to need it, because when they do movies concerned with attracting the widest possible audience, you know there are always certain categories of people that can't be involved -- especially in politically sensitive times. So, for example, in this film, you know it couldn't possibly be the muslim / hindu doctor, no matter how many times tempted to you, because the aggregate of our nation is still "Obama" not Fox News. Still, one of the gratifying moments in the film involves Liam Neeson's character Bill Marks panning the plane, with us knowing most of the people with their hands up might just be stretched into being a possible candidate. Not just the number of cellphone-using men initially targeted out, that is, but also the prying lady -- Julianne Moore's Jen Summers -- who innocently? took the seat beside him, and the stewardesses, and maybe even the two harmless old ladies playing that part to a suspicious? T. The bomb on the plane turns out hidden in something that'd already been exposed to one dastardly reveal -- a clever-enough contrivance, because the movie had been bating us that's all any one person or thing would get -- but I thought, wouldn't it be great if it had been in something else we'd already neutered by having categorized one way into our proprioceptic assembling of what the film was hashing at us … in the teddy bear, with maybe the cellphone not the bomb hidden inside it, with the ostensibly terrified child having been the one who was punching away at the keyboard, sending ominous messages, unafraid of being caught for being too small for either the tall marshall's or the elevated plane cameras' "eyes." "But you didn't count on it being a 'midget,' now did you? 'Little girls need their soothing dolls!' -- Sheesh! Grown men and their dumb, needy stereotypes!"
I know it's not like this wouldn't have put this film way too much in the realm of farce for its purposes, but really, when it had Jen's explanation for why she was so intent on a steadying seat by a window being that she had been told by a doctor that at some point any kind of innocent shock was going to kill her, when we already know about the fate of the plane she's bordered … well, the land of pure farce had near schlepped its way in there. It was precariously close to an "Airplane" moment, so you allow yourself to simulacrum the film right there and imagine that trailed along side it ... a version that went all child-possession "Poltergeist."
When it comes to motive, it turns out it does seem a little Fox Newsy: thank God a marshall was there and up to the job! … and now surely a cop warranted in every school?! But the movie's contrivances here really aren't toward anyone with much influence. The marshall's been fired from the NYPD, and his current job is assessed in the film as about similar to a security guard's -- about anyone with any past and the most suspect of credentials could be recruited into it. He's also an alcoholic … who shows that if you can just stay yourself from drink during the workshift it won't affect your performance diddly. I'm not saying it looks like he'll go back to drinking afterwards, but its attitude toward hard alcohol looks near a bartender's -- "look here Jen, you seem stressed; let me pour you a real drink!" Seriously, that heavy douse he poured her looked intended to titillate audiences more than the pictures of … well, the tits it had humorously contrived in. Not a trumping you usually see in what is -- Julianne Moore, my apologies -- clearly a guy's movie, and maybe what we should look more for in future. Bottle of brown-gold whiskey ... and the guy can't part eyes with it, even as sexually-frustrated young women heave at him in climbing-over-top-of-one-another hordes.
It might be the new allure of hard drink that's making movies seem more agreeable to age-appropriateness, like this movie was. Or something. Because this is two men-movies in a row -- with the previous being "3 Days to Kill" -- where it's a breeze for the older guy to decline the young temptress. I actually thought with that film at play was just his urgent need to be owned by his family, with no further lapse at-all tenable, but maybe it has something to do with how young, sexually virile women are resonating right now in general. Like they can't tempt, because somehow they're your oblivion. Better to stick immediately to someone middling; past-prime, but with a sufficiently toned ass, or a plausible hourglass figure, like this film's Julianne Moore and "3 Day's'" Connie Nielsen and "True Detective's" Michelle Monaghan. I'll ponder.