I kind of wish there had been a bit more truth to the title of this movie. Sure, I get what it's technically referencing to. This movie takes place on a plane, and a terrorist situation happens on said plane. And the plane cannot stop... therefore... non-stop. But what I'm referring to is that I kind of wish there had been a bit more non-stop action. Instead, for the most part until the final act, this film attempts going the thriller and suspense route. And mostly fails.
This is one of four (!) action thriller movies that director Jaume Collet-Serra has done in the 2010's starring Liam Neeson. Evidently, he's been trying to cash in heavily on the recent turn in Neeson's career that started with Taken. Since then he's been getting typecast as gruff current or former cops who is typically pretty good with combat skills. These particular movies never make a ton of money or win over a lot of fans--but just enough to allow studios to keep investing in it, hoping that they'll have the next sleeper action thriller blockbuster that just so happens to star Liam Neeson.
This particular one takes place almost completely in the air--save for the very beginning and end. That does at least lend it a certain amount of focus. Neeson's character, Bill Marks, is a U.S. Air Marshal, and thus he does a lot of flying. And on this particular flight, he just so happens to get a message from a terrorist who threatens to kill someone on the plane every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred to a certain account. Chaos ensues... slowly.
This movie is actually stunningly tedious for much of the run time. Much of it centers around Marks trying to figure out "whodunit." And things are actually pretty tense at first. But later the results often end up making him look bad instead--and he starts getting framed instead. Ultimately, the whole thing just gets tiring to watch as it goes on for some time. And it doesn't help matters that Marks is not much of a protagonist that we want to root for--the sad thing is, you can't entirely argue with some of the passengers' reasons for suspecting him (even though we know he is not the perpetrator). That is not good.
Luckily, the film kicks up a bit in the final act, but it's a bit of a bonkers final act at that. Sure, there's more action, but the antagonist's plan really is not that good of one (despite the person's protests otherwise). And when you think about it, the outcome the person hoped for after the occurrence of his plan probably was not going to happen. And also, after not really doing hardly anything to suspend disbelief most of the way through, the final act ends on a bit of a ridiculous note that really should have resulted in a lot of deaths--but doesn't.
Non-Stop unfortunately is not really a movie that had potential to be much better. It was going in the wrong direction from the start. Going the "let's frame the good guy" route for the majority of the run time is quite tedious. And not nearly enough is done to make the film redeem itself in the end. I often end these more critical reviews lamenting about "what could have been," but it's difficult to see where this film could have gone to make it any dramatically better.