Review: Red Notice Is Fun But Ultimately A Hollow Action Entertainer
Amidst the year’s biggest releases, Netflix’s own heavyweight blockbuster drops with some grade-A talent behind it. Red Notice is poised to be a massive action entertainer with some of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest. Unfortunately, the reactions from its trailers were the first indication of what an empty and superficial movie this really was. And I’m disappointed to say that the movie itself wasn’t to far from that presumption. Keep reading for my kind of spoiler-y Red Notice review, where I’ll discuss where it all went wrong.
A Hodge Podge Of Other Movies, Done Poorly
Prison break gone wrong. | Image via Netflix.
The idea of Red Notice is pretty simple; a heist movie that’s is to Ocean’s Eleven what National Treasure was to Indiana Jones. The search for the mythological golden eggs of Cleopatra brings together an FBI agent and an art thief, to steal the eggs from another thief known as The Bishop. After the Bishop (Gal Gadot) manipulates Agent Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) to capture her rival Booth (Ryan Reynolds), she then frames Hartley too. Teaming up with Booth, Hartley has to capture Bishop to clear his name, before she can steal all the eggs and get away, Scott-free.
Throughout the globetrotting chase, there’s action, adventure, double-crosses, and oh so many hijinks. The movie relies, sometimes unfairly, on its talented star cast, at the expense of a well-written story, executed with some flair to cover up the inconsistencies. But the cast is really where Red Notice shines, with one huge exception.
This Red Notice Review Will Feature One Light Spoiler
The heist movie trifecta. | Image via Netflix.
Red Notice’s star cast is, quite honestly, everything that this movie has going for it. Without belabouring the point, the story is flimsy, and at times, very non-sensical. Mild spoilers, but the third act sees the reveal of a huge Nazi bunker of priceless artifacts, treasures and riches beyond imagination. But instead of focusing on them, they’re still chasing the Maguffin of the movie, which is one egg. Reynolds even literally, calls it, a Maguffin, which was hilariously meta in its own way. But regardless, everything else in the room is probably worth a thousand times more that one object. It didn’t make sense, especially given the twist in the climax. But we roll with it because the plot demands it.
Despite this story, the energy of Red Notice is with its stars. While I had concerns about Reynolds disappearing behind the massive back muscles of co-star Dwayne Johnson, the Deadpool actor does fine. More than fine! Not having to carry the movie on his own shoulders, Reynolds is the most Reynolds-ian than he’s ever been in a long time. The quick-witted, hilarious and sarcastic beta-male is something Reynolds built his career on. And it’s on full display here. And having just as much fun is a fellow superhero, Gal Gadot as Bishop.
Villains Have More Fun. Usually.
Buddy comedy hijinks. | Image via Netflix.
Gadot, known mostly for her role in both Wonder Woman movies, is having a lot of fun in Red Notice. Playing the movie’s primary antagonist, Gadot is conniving, deceptive and is enjoying every minute of her performance. Whereas, in contrast to these, Johnson feels like the weakest link here. Which is a surprising turn of events. In comparison to Reynold’s obnoxious character, Johnson had to play the straight man. And I’m disappointed to say that this was possibly his least impressive performance ever. Even Johnson’s middle-of-the-road films like San Andreas or Skyscraper, he gives a thousand and ten percent. Every time. He elevates what would have been a mediocre C-grade film. He’s not known as the hardest worker in the room for no reason.
But almost every scene of Red Notice that Johnson was in, felt phoned in, or lacklustre. Now I’m not sure if he dialled down his intensity to allow Reynold’s charm to come through in their scenes together. Or if there were other factors at work, but not Johnson’s best work, for sure. Surprisingly.
Red Notice Still Has Its Charm And Worth A Watch
She’s just loving this performance. | Image via Netflix.
But despite all my issues in this review of Red Notice, the movie isn’t without its charms. Reynolds has the best one-liners and scenes. He really holds it together with all of the comedy. His chemistry with Johnson is pretty good, but mostly from his part. There’s a great cameo in the climax, which is hilarious! The climactic twist does not work. And the movie really fails in the franchise-building that, of course, Netflix has to do in the end. Almost a foregone conclusion at this point. But still, an enjoyable brainless watch if you just focus on pretty people doing action-y things in exotic locations.
Red Notice premieres on Netflix on November 12.
What did you think of this new Netflix original featuring the biggest stars of Hollywood? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.