In the picture

November 21, 2021

Despite big stars and an even bigger budget, Red Notice fails to provide much in the way of entertainment.

In the picture

Red Notice   ☆☆

Staring: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, and Chris Diamantopoulos

Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Tagline: Pro and cons.

The new Netflix film Red Notice reportedly had a budget of 200 million dollars (US). That, by any metric, is a ridiculously high number, but it starts to feel even more preposterous when you actually watch the movie. About as generic as it gets, Red Notice stews in a pot of blandness for two overlong hours before leaving you with the baffling mystery of how anyone thought it made sense to throw Marvel blockbuster levels of money at such a flimsy script, for a Marvel blockbuster this certainly is not.

A string of tired cliches roped together to give the semblance of a movie, Red Notice plays like a collage of set pieces pilfered from better films, starring three actors with very limited range.

The story revolves around the search for three Faberge MacGuffins. FBI profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) is on the trail of renowned thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) who is trying to steal three bejewelled eggs that once belonged to Cleopatra, in the hopes of selling them to a billionaire in time for his daughter’s wedding. But when Hartley is framed for stealing one of the eggs, he reluctantly joins forces with Booth to track down The Bishop (Gal Gadot) – an art thief who is also after the eggs and has set the duo up – and clear his name.

A globetrotting cat-and-mouse chase ensues, but the proceedings are so uninspired that the results feel lifeless. There is the occasional gag – like a car chase that ends as soon as it begins and a very random cameo, for instance – that actually works, but for the most part, Red Notice feels like it was algorithmically designed to look like a modern blockbuster without any actual passion behind the project. The pacing is uneven, the jokes are lame, there’s a twist at the end that falls so flat it makes everything even more nonsensical. Even some of the settings and locations look green-screened, which kind of defeats the whole point of the globetrotting adventure.

As for the acting, you basically have three actors that are each doing their respective schtick. Johnson is on autopilot; Reynolds is his usual snarky self; and Gadot is lovely but acting isn’t exactly her strong suit.

With its familiar premise and many pop culture references, Red Notice might have worked better as a full-on spoof. As an action comedy though, the movie stumbles in both aspects and doesn’t reflect too highly on the platform that released it. Netflix roped us in with quality content but for some reason they seem to be trying to retain us with mediocrity. And it’s disappointing that they are willing to shell out obscene amounts of money for said mediocrity when they could have potentially financed so many better projects instead.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

In the picture