Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Seventeen years ago, Harrison Ford grumbled four simple words that defined a genre, a demographic, and a country: "Get off my plane." In a pre-9/11 world, there was no shortage of jingoistic glee in a movie like Air Force One, in which a man's man American president doled out justice to a militia of Russian loyalist terrorists who made the silly mistake of attempting to hijack his flight home from Moscow. In 2014, we don't have the luxury of facing a plotline like this with reckless merriment. There's a damp gravity to the premise behind movies like Non-Stop, which in another time would have been nothing more than Taken on a Plane. But rigidly conscious of the connotations that attach to a story about a hijacking of a civilian international flight into John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, Non-Stop doesn't play too fast and loose. It still plays, and has some good fun doing so, but carefully.
From the getgo, we're anchored into the grim narrative of Liam Neeson's U.S. Air Marshall Bill Marks, who settles his demons with a healthy spoonful of whiskey. A dutiful officer even when liquored up, Marks eyeballs every nameless face in London's Heathrow Airport, silently introducing the bevvy of characters who'll come into play later on. After takeoff, Marks finds himself on the unwitting prowl for the anonymous party who's attempting to take down the red-eye through a series of manipulative text messages, well-timed threats, and clandestine killings. Chatty passenger Julianne Moore and flight attendant Michelle Dockery join Marks in his efforts to identify the mysterious criminal before the entire aircraft falls to his or her whims. So less Taken, more Murder, She Wrote.
Our roundup of suspects challenges our (and their) preconceived notions, and quite laughably — most vocal among Neeson's fellow passengers are a white beta-male school teacher (Scoot McNairy), a black computer engineer with an attitude of entitlement (Nate Parker), a softspoken Middle Eastern surgeon whose headwear gets more than a few focal shots (Omar Metwally), a middle-aged white businessman whose latest account landed him more than your house is worth (Frank Deal), an irate black youngster draped in irreverence (Corey Hawkins), and a white, bald, machismo-howling New York cop who secretly accepts his gay brother (Corey Stoll). Just a few talking heads short of Do the Right Thing, Non-Stop manages to goof on each man's (notice that they're all men — Moore, Dockery, and a barely-in-the-movie Lupita Nyong’o are kept shy of the action for most of the film) distaste for and distrust of one another as they each try to sidle up to, or undermine the harried Marks.
Non-Stop plays an interesting game with its characters and its audience, simultaneously painting the ignorance of its characters with a thick coat of comedy while pointing its finger straight out at us with accusations that we, too, thought it was whoever we just learned it wasn't, and for all the wrong reasons. "Shame on you!" Non-Stop chides, adding, "But let's keep going, this is fun!"
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It is fun — that's the miraculous thing. Without any "Get off my plane"s or "Yippee ki yay"s, Non-Stop keeps its action genre silliness in check (okay, there is a moment involving an airborne gun that'll institute some serious laugh-cheers), investing all of its good time in the game of claustrophobic Clue that we can't help but enjoy. It sacrifices some of its charm in a heavy-handed third act, tipping to one side of what was a pretty impressive balancing act up until that point. But its falter is not one that drags down the movie entirely. Fun and excitement are restored, sincerity is maintained, and even a few moments of sensitivity creep their way through. We might not live in a world of President Harrison Fords any longer, but Air Marshall Liam Neesons could actually be a step up.
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Election Season is far enough behind us to forget who Barack Obama even ran against (I wanna say it was Matt something?), the World Series has come and gone, and the vociferous campaign for People Magazine's Sexiest Man has landed a much less contested candidate than last year. You might think we have nothing left to debate — no polarizing argument in which to invest ourselves so vehemently to the point of popping veins and losing friendships. But you're overlooking one all-important dichotomy that has plagued our culture for the past several years: Edward Vs. Jacob.
The Twilight Saga heroine Bella Swan might have made her choice in the vampirious Mr. Cullen, but there are doubtlessly many who reserve affection for Edward's werewolf rival. The Team Edward/Team Jacob battle broke out between the installments of the book-turned-film series, plaguing the American populace with an intense animosity for the opposing sides. Some thought Edward to be Bella's meant-to-be, her first love, her soul mate. Others considered Jacob the more suitable partner, purer of heart and more capable of a giving, healthy relationship.
This is a phenomenon that has tread beyond the parameters of Twilight fandom into popular culture, affecting not only Twihards but the human species on the whole. And in its widespread outbreak, this pandemic has affected two particular communities the most: actual people named Edward and Jacob. No longer are these innocent men able to go about their days, enjoying the moniker supplied by loving parents. Now, there are connotations. They are unwittingly thrust into this bloodletting warfare, forced to defend their nomenclature against the opposing side.
But what's in a name? How does one state a case for the superior quality of his given handle? Simple: by citing some of the best examples of figures who have borne that same praenomen. So without further ado, we present to you just that. The ultimate showdown, broken down into nine disparate battles in the form of our very own additions to the Twilight Saga — other Edwards Vs. Jacobs... in pop culture, of course.
The Scorsese Saga: Fast Eddie Felson Vs. Jake LaMotta
Team Edward: Fast Eddie Felson, played by Paul Newman in The Color of Money
Powers at His Disposal: The almost unteachable skill of pool hustling, and the rare ability to teach it.
Team Jacob: Jake LaMotta, played by Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Powers: A bull-like rage (also his undoing)
Winner: Jake LaMotta — Raging Bull is a classic (0/1)
The Seven Seas Saga: Blackbeard Vs. Jake of the Never Land Pirates
Team Edward: Real life 18th Century pirate Blackbeard, born Edward Teach
Powers: An iconoclastic reverence among enthusiasts of pirate culture and facial hair alike
Team Jacob: The starring player in the Disney cartoon Jake and the Never Land Pirates
Powers: The greatest power of all: the ability to teach children
Winner: Jake of the Never Land Pirates. It's good to be educational (0/2)
The Journalistic Saga: Edward R. Murrow Vs. Jacob Riis
Team Edward: Cold War-era CBS news reporter Edward R. Murrow
Powers: The ability to take down Joseph McCarthy with a single bound!
Team Jacob: Jacob Riis, turn-of-the-20th Century Danish-American reporter/social reformer
Powers: Laser-powered muckraking!
Winner: Edward R. Murrow... you can thank him for the lack of xenophobic oppression you might be facing today (1/2)
The Lost Saga: Edward Mars Vs. Jacob
Team Edward: Edward Mars (Frederic Lehne), the ill-fated U.S. Marshal assigned to the arrest of Kate Austen
Powers: A superhuman devotion to justice
Team Jacob: Jacob (Mark Pellegrino)... you know, the dude who's pretty much God
Powers: The dude is pretty much God
Winner: You might be surprised by this one, but Edward — at the end of the day, Jacob was kind of a bulls*** artist (2/2)
The Ramis Saga: Cousin Eddie Vs. Joliet Jake Blues
Team Edward: Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) of the National Lampoon's Vacation franchise fame
Powers: The ability to show up, unannounced, anywhere in the country that might provide peril to his cousin Chevy Chase
Team Jacob: Joliet Jake Blues (John Belushi), one half of the titular pair in The Blues Brothers
Powers: Just listen to the music, people
Winner: Belushi all the way, of course (2/3)
The Talking Dog Saga: Eddie McDowd Vs. Jake the Dog
Team Edward: Seth Green's forgettable Nickelodeon antihero from 100 Deeds of Eddie McDowd
Powers: Does shapeshifting count when you can't control it?
Team Jacob: Jake the Dog from the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time
Powers: That arm-stretching thing, and loyalty
Winner: Eddie McDowd, if only for that nostalgia factor with which so many of us are plagued (3/3)
The Sitcom Children Saga: Eddie Munster Vs. Jake Harper
Team Edward: In a strange inversion of fate, this Edward is a werewolf: young Eddie Munster (Butch Patrick) from the classic '60s sitcom The Munsters
Powers: Near immortality, transformation into full-on wolf come full moon, a snazzy fashion sense
Team Jacob: Jake Harper (Angus T. Jones), Jon Cryer's son on Two and a Half Men
Powers: Bodily functions.
Winner: Eddie Munster, because... well, you know (4/3)
The Mutant Pariah Saga: Edward Scissorhands Vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Team Edward: Tim Burton's greatest creation, Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands
Powers: A love unparalleled
Team Jacob: Retired professional wrestler and python wrangler Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Powers: The snake, mostly
Winner: Another obvious victory for the Edwards... man, we all love that movie (5/3)
The Definitely Talented But Kind of Generic White Male Actor Over the Age of 30 Who Has Been in a Bunch of Good Things, Sure, But Hasn't Ever Really Taken Off as a Star — At Least Not Yet, Anyway Saga: Edward Norton Vs. Jake Gyllenhaal
Team Edward: Edward Norton of Fight Club, American History X, and Death to Smoochy
Powers: He used to be able to turn green and smash stuff, but Mark Ruffalo took that from him
Team Jacob: Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain, and Zodiac starJake Gyllenhaal
Powers: Those eyes.
Winner: Edward Norton. Go see Moonrise Kingdom, by the way (6/3).
And so, just like in the movies, Team Edward takes the victories. Catch The Twilight Saga's final chapter, Breaking Dawn - Part 2 in theaters on Friday, Nov. 16.
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
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