“Non-Stop” (PG-13): Liam Neeson saves the day yet again, this time as an air marshal. High schoolers who don’t mind their action heroes a little haggard and no longer young can get an adrenaline jolt from this formulaic flick as it pushes our post-9/11 fear buttons, including racial profiling, and then debunks a few of them. “Non-Stop” is a tad violent for middle schoolers.
Grungy, sad and hollow-eyed from too much booze and not enough sleep, Neeson’s Bill Marks may be an air marshal, but he still grips the armrest on takeoff. His seatmate (Julianne Moore) on the London flight reassures him. Soon after, threatening text messages start popping up on Bill’s phone. The anonymous texter is on the plane and knows who Bill is, though air marshals travel undercover. The texter warns that he’ll kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless he gets $150 million.
As tension builds and deaths occur, the texter incriminates Bill as the bad guy – an air marshal gone rogue. Bill must hunt for the killer among people who don’t trust him. The finale is not for nervous fliers.
The violence isn’t bloody, but it involves neck-breaking, head-banging, pistol-whipping, shooting and an explosion.
“3 Days To Kill” (PG-13): Picturesque European streets and zippy car chases don’t hide the fact that this thriller, starring Kevin Costner as a sick-and-tired CIA assassin, makes no earthly sense.
Costner plays Ethan, a ragged agent who, in a prologue, kills a passel of terrorist money men in a hotel, then collapses. Told he has terminal cancer, he retires and heads home to Paris, hoping to reconnect with his long-estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld).
He finds a family of squatters living in his old single-guy apartment, a daughter who’ll barely speak to him, and a wife still fuming at his absences. As he tries to regain his family, Ethan is waylaid by a vampy CIA honcho (Amber Heard) who insists that he get back in the game and kill a list of terrorists now conveniently located in Paris. She offers in return an experimental anti-cancer drug that gives him palpitations and hallucinations, often while doing his job.
For a PG-13, “3 Days to Kill” indulges in much implicitly lethal violence and makes light of Ethan using torture, including electric shock, on the terrorists’ limo driver. It holds onto its PG-13 by limiting blood flow, but shows point-blank gun deaths, bone-crushing fights, implied beheadings, explosions and car chase/gun battles. The dialogue includes rare midrange profanity, with strong words abridged.
“The LEGO Movie” (PG): It’s a 3-D LEGO world and somebody’s gotta overthrow its nasty dictator. Kids 6 and older will have a blast at this smart comic adventure, and parents will grin at its great visuals and bull’s-eye spoof of modern life. LEGO-man Emmet (voice of Chris Pratt), a drone at a LEGO construction site, has no original thoughts; he just quotes the rule book. Then he falls down a magic wormhole, touches a glowing monolith, and emerges with a red rectangle melded to his back. This IDs Emmet as The Special, destined to lead an uprising against President Business (Will Ferrell), the autocrat who rules the LEGO world. Cute resistance fighter Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) forces Emmet to think original thoughts. Things take a “realistic” turn at the end, which drains some energy, but sends a nice message about kids, parents and creativity.