Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Non-Stop, 3 Days to Kill and Winter's Tale (2014)


Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Produced by Alex Heineman, Andrew Rona and Joel Silver
Written by John W. Richardson, Chris Roach and Ryan Engle
Starring Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong'o, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker and Corey Stoll


During a transatlantic flight, a washed-up federal air marshall (Neeson) plays cat and mouse with a passenger who threatens to kill someone on board every twenty minutes until he or she receives $150 million.

Given Neeson's last two starring action roles (Unknown and Taken 2), I wasn't expecting much. Happily, I was proven wrong. Neeson excels at playing tortured protagonists in pressure situations, and he delivers more solid work here. He's a worthy addition to any action film, but this is easily his best since the breakout hit Taken. I was completely engrossed after the first ten minutes, which doesn't happen in many films these days. Granted, this is genre fare and geared for entertainment, and it most definitely delivers on that front.

Oscar Potential: None

3 Days to Kill

Directed by McG
Produced by Luc Besson, Adi Hasak, Ryan Kavanaugh, Marc Libert and Virginie Silla
Written by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson
Starring Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen


A dying CIA operative (Costner) reconnects with his daughter (Steinfeld) in Paris and takes an assignment in exchange for an experimental drug that could prolong his life.

This film is everything you'd expect from an early action release, but it's Costner's charming on-screen presence that provides something more interesting to watch. Despite the action sequences (and the suggestive title), the highlights of the movie come in the moments between Costner and Steinfeld, as they struggle to build a new relationship. There is also a lot of humor, which is a welcome reprieve from a mostly by-the-numbers storyline. Still, the casting gives the film a little something special, making it more than just another forgettable action movie.

Oscar Potential: None

Winter's Tale

Directed by Akiva Goldsman
Produced by Akiva Goldsman, Marc Platt and Michael Tadross
Written by Akiva Goldsman
Starring Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint and Russell Crowe


When a thief (Farrell) falls in love with a dying socialite (Brown Findlay), he searches for a miracle to save her, as he's pursued by an agent (Crowe) of evil.

This panned fantasy film feels like a loose combination of fellow literary adaptations Stardust and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I haven't read the lengthy best-selling novel, but I would guess it does a far better job of establishing the world of these characters. Another problem is some of the actors are miscast. Farrell and Crowe do their best with somewhat uneven results, but Jessica Brown Findlay is simply marvelous. Meanwhile, the film is visually impressive, and the score by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Hans Zimmer is quite wonderful. While it's not a spectacular experience overall, I admittedly enjoyed it more than most.

Oscar Potential: Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("Miracle")


  1. I must see Winter's Tale! You must READ Winter's Tale!


    I saw Peabody and Sherman and kind of hated it. I need to write my review, but I haven't found the time yet.

    1. Ha, it's so true!

      I'm skipping Peabody and Sherman, unless it gets an Oscar nomination somehow.

  2. I very much enjoyed Non-Stop, and now, given what you say about 3 Days to Kill, I'll probably try to catch it before the film leaves theaters. WT, as much as I like Colin Farrell, will be a rental, far down the line. Thanks, Josh.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Michael! Costner's performance really elevated the material in 3 Days to Kill, and I'd happily rewatch it. Plus, it's just great to see him in a lead role again.

  3. He..he.. I have to admit I was most curious to read your Winter's Tale review Josh. Well you definitely like it more than most, I think the story could be done much better IMO, and yeah Farrell is hugely miscast. Glad you enjoyed 3 Days to Kill though, I did too largely because of Costner.

    1. Ha, what can I say? I enjoyed Winter's Tale, despite many flaws. :) Costner was so great in 3 Days to Kill. I hope he continues to get more leading roles.