Synopsis: An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler and two rival criminals, there’s no telling what will happen.
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Running Length: 115 minutes
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: Plenty of movies (and good movies) have sailed into financial and critical success based on the charisma of their leading players. The story may be lackluster and the efforts behind the scenes could be minimal, but get a bona fide movie star, or a combination of stars, in your film and just watch how a dud can turn into a winner. I’m betting that anyone seeing the trailer for Red Notice, now streaming on Netflix and playing in select theaters, could have guessed the film was going to be all about its three huge A-listers and the energy they are known to bring to their projects. How would they have known these same celebrities would be leaving all their valuable (and turns out much needed) screen presence at home?
Likely the laziest action thriller I’ve seen in years, Red Notice also accomplishes what previously could have been thought to be impossible: making its charming stars totally devoid of personality. Wait, you may be thinking, is this guy telling us that not only are Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) bland walking posterboards where superheroes once stood but Rampage’s Dwayne Johnson is too? Oh yes, that is exactly what I’m telling you. Writer/director Rawson Marshal Thurber (We’re the Millers) reteams with his oft-collaborator Johnson after their enjoyable Central Intelligence in 2016 and cheesy but fun Skyscraper in 2018 for this hollow bit of blah which is at its best, casually distracting and at its worst, so forgettable from scene to scene that when it inevitably reveals a set of double crosses you aren’t even sure who was originally loyal to whom.
A National Treasure-y plot using historical artifacts finds three eggs belonging to Cleopatra being the MacGuffin in which the adventure centers on. The location of two of these eggs are known but the third is a mystery. Of course, it isn’t, or else why would Reynolds as super thief Nolan Booth be trying to gather all three eggs for a rich Egyptian and collect a hefty finders fee before equally skilled cat burglar The Bishop (Gadot) can beat him to it? Trying to stop them is John Hartley (Johnson) an American copy tracking Booth and The Bishop who only wants to protect the eggs, having a severe distaste for con artists and criminals due to some strained family history with thieves. Forced to team up with Booth when The Bishop frames them both and gets them tossed in a Gulag style prison, Hartley traverses the globe with his new cellmate while an Interpol agent (Ritu Arya, Last Christmas) attempts to keep a handle on all three, trusting no one.
It’s a mystery to me just what transpired to have Red Notice turn out as bad as it did. Maybe it’s because all three roles are too easy for these stars and they are coasting on autopilot. Made during the pandemic, this was a fast way to stay afloat and perhaps start a new franchise in the process. I hope the thinking wasn’t that they’d get it right in the second round because this original outing is so limp and uninspired, I wouldn’t want to travel down the block with any of them again. The only one of the three that seems to marginally understand the assignment is Gadot, but there’s such little chemistry with either of her co-stars (not entirely her fault) that the role winds up sort of flailing in the wind and feeling like a supporting player instead of a third lead. Banter between Johnson and Reynolds is tired and uninspired and so much of the movie is digitized even the international adventure of the movie feels phony, so you can’t feel involved or engaged for any length of time.
For a movie of this size and stature, there’s been a relatively quiet amount of publicity for Red Notice and now I know why. It plays fine as an extremely thin spy flick and nothing more. It’s the type of uneventful movie with easy solutions that doesn’t bother to explain why a bunker hidden for decades could be found under less than an inch of dirt or why a car that hadn’t been started for almost a century runs like a top with barely a sputter. It’s because the screenplay said so and nothing else. If the movie doesn’t bother to think too deeply about why it exists, why should we?