Snakes on a plane? Nope, Liam Neeson.

Myles Aronowitz/Universal Pictures

The real mystery in Liam Neeson’s “Non-Stop” (2014) isn’t necessarily the one that he and the movie are selling. It’s just as much about finding out what’s in it for Neeson’s castmates: Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), and to a lesser degree Julianne Moore. Neeson’s turn as a life-beaten air marshal tangling with an unidentified killer aboard a trans-Atlantic flight fits squarely with the star’s generic-yet-distinctive pattern of recent years. He’ll give us a dependably tense thriller like “Taken,” “Unknown,” “The Grey,” or this one — nothing quite splashy enough to grab a summer multiplex date, so it’s trotted out in midwinter (and for DVD viewers right around now). Reliable is good, but so is a wild card, and we hoped that Dockery especially might supply one. Plus maybe offer some reassurance that all that “Downton” melodrama is simply a skill, and not her entire skill set. But Dockery and Nyong’o’s flight attendants are underscripted non-starters. Their biggest action moment is laughably zipping down an evacuation slide, a scene whose only saving grace — does “grace” apply? — is that they’re not doing it in Lady Mary finery or Nyong’o’s plunging Oscars stunner. (This is what those resume highlights get them? We’ll hold out for Nyong’o’s upcoming “Star Wars” gig, thanks.) Moore, meanwhile, shares Neeson’s knack for legitimizing studio fluff. But if this was all about having some fun with a familiar costar, you’d guess Moore and Neeson probably had more on “Chloe,” their Atom Egoyan softcore oddity. (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98)



There was talk that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s Louisiana-set crime drama could morph into a Brad Pitt showcase for its second season. (Speculation about the follow-up, to be set in California, has since shifted to Christian Bale and Joaquin Phoenix.) We thought that maybe it was just McConaughey’s new Oscar cachet talking. But catching the series on disc, we realized there’s more to it: Writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s eerie, nihilistic vision plays like an acoustic cover of Pitt’s “Seven.” Extras: Listening to novelist Pizzolatto, it’s pretty clear where McConaughey’s cop gets his tormented, deep-thinking worldview. (HBO, $59.99; Blu-ray, $79.98)




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Speaking of routine but sturdy suspense . . . Chris Pine trades Captain Kirk’s swagger for the reluctant heroism of Tom Clancy’s CIA everyman. You’d think this would be all about Pine’s fit as a successor to Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, et al. But we couldn’t help focusing more on director Kenneth Branagh, who’s seemingly always thought of for his Shakespeare, and always underappreciated for genre efforts like “Thor.” (He’s also helming Disney’s upcoming “Cinderella” reinterpretation, “Maleficent” fans.) Branagh’s espionage work might rate higher if not for the movie’s too-lightweight Russian heavy: Branagh himself, whose accent is the scariest thing about him. Extras: Blu-ray filmmaker commentary, featurettes. (Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99)

Tom Russo can be reached at