When it comes to stupid movies, you can't get much more stupid than Non-Stop. This addition to Liam Neeson's ever expanding repertoire of goofy action movies disappoints on every level. The first two-thirds are perfunctory, but the last act is among the most idiotic 30 minutes in movie history. Those coming for unintentional laughs will not be disappointed. But those hoping for anything more will be either bored or frustrated.
Liam Neeson is US Federal Air Marshal William Marks, and he's traveling on a plane. William Marks gets a mysterious text that orders Marks to put 150 million dollars into the texter's bank account. Every 20 minutes, someone on the plane will die until he receives the 150 million.
The potential here with the charmingly cheesy b-movie who-dunnit premise is undeniable. The problem is that Non-Stop fails to satisfy any of the expected demands of a film like this. It's not fun. It's not suspenseful. And it's not emotionally resonate. At least one of these requirements needed to be met. By not providing any of the fun, suspense or emotion one would hope for, Non-Stop becomes a fairly uninvolving and forgettable 106 minutes.
The first 70 or so minutes of the film are cliched and unremarkable, but they function well enough. It's mindlessly engaging, but never particularly memorable. Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes are outrageous (and not in a good way). Normally, when a film falls apart in the last act, the issue can be isolated into a single problem. Absurd coincident, bizarre character oversight, incompetent villain, plot contrivances, etc. In Non-Stop, it's all of those, and more. For sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I can't be as specific as I might have liked. But the last 30 minutes of Non-Stop provides enough material for its own separate review would I have felt so inclined to write one.
What I can say about the ending is that the reveal of the antagonist is extremely unsatisfying. Because the film doesn't take the time to develop any of its characters, we don't care at all when we discover who's been behind everything. It's also worth pointing out the completely unnecessary political statements that the film tries to make in the last act. The first two thirds of Non-Stop are fairly sloppy, but they look polished and shiny compared to the disastrous finale.
The cast is made up of talented actors giving paycheck performances. Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore are fine in undemanding roles, and the other actors (in extremely small roles) are good enough to suffice.
John Ottman's score is perfunctory in its minimal requirement; to elevate suspense. But it's melodically moot, and by the last half-hour, it has turned into your run-of-the-mill electronics-loaded action score.
Sloppy, poorly directed, and surprisingly uninteresting, Non-Stop is a mess. Lacking enough suspense for the audience to overlook its story and character details, the entire affair is completely laughable, when it's not frustratingly pedestrian. Non-Stop isn't as bad as it easily could have been, but the potential here for something better is unshakable.