MOVIE REVIEW – Three of the most popular stars in Hollywood entertainment today – Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot – go after three legendary egg jewels. Rawson Marshall Thurber doesn’t try to offer more than a mind-bending and stupidly entertaining action-adventure film, in which super-criminals and super-cops hunt each other and the three artefacts that once belonged to Cleopatra.
Red Notice takes its title from Interpol’s wanted list, but it’s actually a twisty treasure hunt that blurs the lines between good and bad guys. The film focuses more on which of two notorious art thieves is better at breaking the law: the sarcastic art thief Nolan Booth (played by the reliably professional gimmick Ryan Reynolds) or the simultaneously sexy and aristocratic nemesis known only as the Bishop (Gal Gadot)
The two professional art thieves set out to collect three large decorative eggs – worth around $300 million, but only one at a time – which, according to the story, were gifted initially to Cleopatra by Antony but have been scattered around the world over thousands of years of fictional history. (Fictional because Antony never gave any eggs to Cleopatra). As Booth and the Bishop rattle around the world, embarking on a grand Easter egg hunt, criminal profiler FBI agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) tries to catch them. Still, the story here is the simplicity itself: a fun, fast-paced and often hilarious action-adventure film that feels more like a parody of the Uncharted video games than anything else. If you’re looking for more story depth, more character development than the bare minimum, you’d be better off not even starting the Netflix movie: this is only entertainment to watch on a big TV.
The screenplay, written by Thurber himself, starts with a whirlwind as Booth steals Cleopatra’s first egg, narrowly escapes Hartley’s clutches, only to be captured when he returns home in another hemisphere. Then the Bishop shows up, steals the recovered loot and gets Hartley into trouble, as the Interpol agent in charge, Inspector Das (Ritu Arya), now suspects the former FBI agent of having stolen the jewel himself. It’s almost the beginning of the film, but Hartley already shares a cell with Booth in a remote Russian prison.
Classic old-school action movie
We’re clearly in the action movie era of the 80s and 90s here, and Thurber (who has worked with The Rock in Skyscraper) directs the wild and well-choreographed fights, chases and other stunts with due professionalism. Of course, Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot all give their money’s worth, whether it’s the spectacular but unimaginative action sequences or the occasionally slightly stupid dialogue. Gal Gadot sometimes tries to outplay Reynolds, but frankly, she’s better when she’s fighting Wonder Woman style or simply looking extraordinarily sexy and decorative in her fiery red gown that shows off her thighs and bombshell figure.
Hi there, Uncharted
After a while, the film turns uninhibitedly into a series of side-splitting references and gags reminiscent of other films. There’s almost everything here: Uncharted, Indiana Jones, True Lies, even Gal Gadot reminds me of Lara Croft. Apart from Gadot’s limited acting skills, I think she would be a much more fun, engaging and believable Lara Croft than Alicia Vikander was in the 2018 Tomb Raider movie.
The same can be said of Ryan Reynolds, who, even in this role, routinely shows how much better Nathan Drake he could be than Tom Holland who we’ve seen in the Uncharted trailer so far. Sadly, even Dwayne Johnson would be a better Sully than Mark Wahlberg is based on the same trailer.
The usual bromance stuff
The usual “buddy movie” storyline is familiar from a thousand other films: two enemies who (more or less…) develop the inevitable “bromance” during the film, while the femme fatale gets involved in everything. It’s a very clichéd set-up, but I think it works well because of the parody nature of the film and the routine performances of the stars.
Red Notice is a fair action-adventure film and a parody of itself – it doesn’t want to be anything more. The critics absolutely demolished this movie (it currently stands at 36 on Metacritic), so I was expecting much worse, but I honestly had a relatively good time with the film. It’s a pleasant way to turn your brain off for two hours, and if you’re watching it on a 4K TV, it’s sufficiently spectacular.