A Fun But Flawed Heist Adventure
At first glance, Netflix’s new movie Red Notice could be passed off as an Indiana Jones adventure. There is the hunt for long-lost treasures, a roguish scoundrel (Ryan Reynolds), and various globetrotting escapades. However, it never quite hits the mark of Indy’s adventures and instead falls into that ‘could have been better’ category of movies. This isn’t to say Red Notice is without merit, however, as it’s not quite the misfire I was expecting.
The best thing the film has going for it is its cast. The aforementioned Ryan Reynolds stars as Nolan Booth, a self-proclaimed ‘greatest art thief’ who is on the hunt for three jewel-encrusted eggs (supposedly owned by Cleopatra). On his trail is Dwayne Johnson’s FBI agent John Hartley, and thrown into the mix is Gal Gadot’s mysteriously monikered ‘The Bishop,’ who frames Hartley as a thief early on in the film. The three leads work well together and help to paper over the inconsistencies and contrivances that exist within the script.
Booth and Hartley are forced to team up after The Bishop’s meddling and it’s their odd-couple relationship that creates the film’s biggest laughs. Reynolds is his usual snarky self and is often interchangeable with his Deadpool character due to the many smartass lines (often at Hartley’s expense), that he gets to deliver in the film. Johnson rarely navigates to new territory either, although mercifully never gets to do his all-too-familiar eyebrow raise that has now become tiresome. The two actors spark well off each other throughout the film, although it’s Reynolds knack for improvisation that gives him the upper hand in most of their dialogue scenes.
Gadot pops in and out of the film and is as reliably excellent as ever. We never quite know what her character’s motives are or who she’s working for (or with), but this is fine as it adds to the sense of mystery that director Rawson Marshall Thurber tries to conjure up. It’s also good to see Gadot in a different kind of role after her recent outings as Wonder Woman.
For the most part, the film is quite a fun watch. This is partly thanks to the character interplay and partly thanks to some reasonably well-orchestrated action scenes. And as the film rarely stays in one place for long – the film takes us to such locations as the museums of Rome, a Russian prison, the streets of London, and lush South American jungles – it’s easy to stay invested, even when the plot becomes increasingly ridiculous.
I went into the film with low expectations. Thurber previously directed Johnson in Central Intelligence, and that was brainless pap, despite its misleading title. Admittedly, their next go-round together, Skyscraper, was better, but I was still prepared to be underwhelmed by their latest film together. It was perhaps due to my low expectations that I enjoyed the film. It’s hardly a classic but Reynolds and Johnson are an effectively funny pairing, even though they are largely playing to type. Gadot plays against them well, as does Rita Arya as the Interpol agent who is perpetually on their trail.
Netflix has a bad track record when it comes to blockbuster movies. Thunder Force, The Outsider, and The Last Days of American Crime all underwhelmed, and the least said about Adam Sandler’s movies for the streaming giant, the better! Red Notice slightly bucks the trend. It’s not a film that will long live in your memory and you are unlikely to re-watch it regularly. However, if you’re looking for something to watch with your brain turned off, you might enjoy this film. Some scenes do border on the ridiculous – the scene where Johnson gets pummeled by a bull and remains largely unscathed is one example – but they are all part of Red Notice’s goofy charm.
Red Notice 2 hasn’t been announced yet but the film is probably in the running for a sequel. It certainly sets itself up for one and I wouldn’t be unwilling to watch these characters again. Despite an incredulous last-minute twist and a particularly cringe-worthy cameo, it isn’t as awful as it could have been. If you’re a fan of the leads, you might enjoy this. Just set your expectations to ‘low’ first to avoid being disappointed.
Verdict - 6.5/10