Is Red Notice Worth Noticing?

Pamela Connellan
on November 20, 2021

It’s Netflix’s most expensive film to date and it’s being watched by millions around the world but is Red Notice worth your time? Many would say ‘not really’. While it seems like a good idea to get three well-known actors to play the lead roles – Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot – throw them in together and film a heist comedy, this Netflix original movie doesn’t really come up with the goods.

Look, Red Notice is not a complete waste of time, but it could have been so much better. Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot hardly step out of their off-screen personas so  they may as well go by their own names. Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds with every second line a sassy comeback. Some of them are funny but some don’t just fall flat, they plummet, and sound desperate. Johnson is big and brusque and Gadot is alluring and athletic.

But it’s still true, without the charm of the three leads, Red Notice would have been awful. Instead, it is simply average. Everyone looks like they are enjoying themselves, safe in the knowledge their bank balances received a sizeable increase for participating – try taking home $20 million for your latest project as this is the figure all three leads have reportedly been paid.

Johnson’s burly cop John Hartley and Reynolds’ art thief Nolan Booth gel effectively and Gadot is bubbly and competent as Booth’s competitor. Given the talent, of course, there are some good gags but one of the fundamental issues is that they are smothered in throwaway jokes. This can work in smaller doses but there were times when Red Notice simply felt as if it were being made up on the fly.
When you combine this with the fact that there are far too many attempts at twists, shocks and reveals, the movie spends a lot of time suffering because of its strange writing process – or lack of it.
Also, factor in the fact this movie looks – at times – as cheap as hell and you get the picture. Red Notice isn’t quite the success Netflix would have been banking on for one of their biggest releases of the year.
So what’s the plot?
The plot is that FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson) is forced into an uneasy alliance with art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) to steal Cleopatra’s eggs – ornate golden things, not ones she laid – before master art thief The Bishop (Gadot) beats them to it.

The opening sequence has some stunning use of a first-person view drone as a camera – a first for cinema – taking us in one movement from the rooftops of Rome to Johnson’s iconic dome. The drone also excels in the museum chase, following Booth through tables, chairs and scaffolding.

But while the stunt team references some iconic Jackie Chan moves, they simultaneously highlight how Chan was much better and faster at these things.

So in summary, Red Notice is an easy, non-taxing watch. It isn’t particularly memorable though and how it cost US$200 million is baffling?

Sure, there’s a lot of globetrotting adventures which take place in Italy, Bali, London, Russia and Argentina, in grand scenarios that have the hallmarks of an epic heist movie. But even with all that money is splashed across the screen, the end result is flat and tired.

Red Notice is already doing well ratings-wise but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth your time to watch it.

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