New Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop landed in cinemas last Friday and took its first weekend box office by storm, soaring to number one. The movie had the tricky task of taking on all the Oscar-nominated movies that are still out in theatres but rose to the challenge masterfully, earning $30 million ahead of Son of God's $26.5 million. The tense who-dunnit also managed the impressive task of taking out the previous number one film, The Lego Movie, which was forced to settle for third this week.

Non-Stop Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson Races Against Time To Save Passengers & Himself In 'Non-Stop.'

Neeson's lead role is the movie's main draw, and fans of the Taken actor have a seemingly insatiable thirst for the Irish star's serious, determined and urgent acting style. However, if Neeson's star power was all that was drawing moviegoers in Non-Stop's first weekend, what is it that could see the movie retain its coveted ranking?

The cast as a whole is strong, with Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o playing passengers and air stewardesses on the same flight as Neeson. Nyong'o's Oscars success means that the 12 Years a Slave actress' shining new appeal could see Non-Stop attract plenty more viewers, particularly as it's Nyong'o's only official role since 12 Years.

Watch The 'Non-Stop' Trailer:

The film stars Neeson as Bill Marks, an undercover US air marshal, who admits that he hates flying whilst chatting to his affable plane companion, Jen Summers (Moore). Marks is forced to blow his cover when he is informed by text message that unless $150 million is transferred to a bank account immediately, the mysterious sender will murder one person on the plane every 20 minutes.

This terrifying premise brings a nail-biting manhunt in a place where nobody is safe: 42,000 feet above ground. Trying not to panic the other passengers, Marks sets out to look for the culprit alone as the mysterious sender begins to follow through with their threat. In a disturbing twist, it emerges that the bank account details are actually his own and he is forced to defend himself from the accusations that ensue.

Julianne Moore Non-Stop
Julianne Moore Plays Jen, The Passenger Sitting Next To Neeson's Banks In 'Non-Stop.'

Critics have largely praised the film for Neeson's capable lead and Jaume Collet-Serra's expert direction. However, it has also been noted that, in creating an edge-of-your-seat who-dunnit, the plot onboard the plane weaves confusingly and unnecessarily as numerous suspects are offered up to the viewer.

If it weren't for the dedicated cast, nail-biting premise operating on the fringes of believability and pressure-cooker thriller atmosphere, Non-Stop would have probably been a one weekend flash-in-the-pan. As it is, it's Neeson doing what he does best: bringing baddies to justice with plenty of scowls and dramatic lines. That's something that will always have bankable appeal.

Non-Stop is out in cinemas now.