Allegedly Netflix’s most expensive film to date, Red Notice, a caper movie bringing together Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, is slick, fun – and instantly forgettable. Johnson is an FBI agent in pursuit of art thief Reynolds as he goes about trying to get his hands on Cleopatra’s three golden eggs. Yep. Two are very stealable; the third is lost who knows where.
After some stunt and scaffolding fights, Reynolds is arrested and Johnson is framed as part of the plan. They find themselves in an only-in-the-movies Russian gulag, and a bromance ensues, Reynolds’ trademark adlibbed snarks and Johnson’s stoicism bouncing nicely off each other. Another character is behind their imprisonment, Gal Gadot’s Bishop: she always seems to be one step ahead and as they pursue the remaining golden eggs she crops up, displaying tango and kung fu skills.
Essentially, Red Notice is a series of ripoffs of other, better films. Reynolds even whistles the Raiders Of The Lost Ark theme as they go through a sequence that owes a great debt to Indiana Jones, the ensuing chase riffing on action moments from all of the archaeologist’s films. The plot is ludicrous, with its doublecrosses and globetrotting excesses, but the action is excellently staged – set-piece escapes from prison and a subterranean chase through mine shafts in old Nazi vehicles among the high spots.
Rawson Marshall Thurber, who also made the solid/bland action films Skyscraper and Central Intelligence with Johnson, directs in solid but unspectacular fashion. His twisty but predictable script adds little to the mix, seemingly a blueprint to which Reynolds adds quips – which, essentially, is his character, though Thurber adds some well-worn absent father/son issues to sketch in as motivation for his two alpha males.
Reynolds and Johnson essentially play themselves in their every role at this point, which is often entertaining but not enough to make Red Notice stand out. Gadot gamely keeps up with the boys in the action and quipping – even singing, brave of her after last year’s “Imagine” debacle – and there’s a terrible bad guy called Sotto Voce who sounds like he’s been dubbed, but the whole film is so self-aware that there is never any real jeopardy. Bright, breezy and hollow, Red Notice is fun while it lasts.
Dir: Rawson Marshall Thurber (12A) (117 mins)
Streaming on Netflix now
words KEIRON SELF
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