Non-Stop employs the traditional three act structure as follows: one act of manipulative tedium, one act that is clearly lifted from a different movie, and one act of mind-boggling lunacy. The result is a decisive meh. It is almost fun until your brain kicks in with a “hey wait a minute! moment” and what is left is a wonderment that you didn’t either fall asleep or throw something at the screen in anger. I give full credit to the film makers for trying to keep the film rolling along fast enough to keep that moment at bay and their success will depend fully on your ability to suspend disbelief.
Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks, an alcoholic Air Marshal who is afraid of flying. Just after take-off for a trans-atlantic flight Marks receives a text message stating that someone on the plane will die every twenty minutes until 150 million dollars are wired to a bank account. It is then a race against time as Marks tries to uncover the terrorist. He is hindered by the fact that everyone is a suspect, the fact that the bank account is listed in his name, the fact that no one believes him, the fact that he appears to have no supervisors that know him, and the fact the he is drunk at the time. Other than that, things go swimmingly.
Liam Neeson has phoned in a paycheck and there is little else to be said for the rest of the cast with the exception of Julianne Moore. Moore does what she does best, which is elevate her material beyond the quality of the script. Everyone else plays a stereotype, caricature, or characteristic. 12 Years a Slave standout Lupita Nyong’o evens shows up for two lines. I don’t believe the fault necessarily lies with the actors given that there is no serviceable script to work with.
Non-Stop is blah at best. I felt manipulated by the insistence that everyone is a suspect because the film says they are, the ultimate motivations by the bad guy are beyond ridiculous, and the last act is possible only in movieland. This isn’t the type of bad film that insults the intelligence. This is the type of bad film that is just disappointing. It is mediocre even in its badness. Grade: C-