This review was originally published on 11/5/21.
DISCLAIMER: Mild spoilers abound for Netflix’s Red Notice. Proceed at your peril.
What do you get when you throw in three of the world’s biggest names and a cat-and-mouse caper that takes them all across the globe? Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s Red Notice, a stylish, adventurous heist comedy. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, Red Notice draws viewers courtesy of its A-list roster alone.
FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson) must partner with notorious art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) to track down The Bishop (Gadot), the world’s most wanted art thief. Hot on their heels is Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya). Along the way, Hartley and Booth contend with Sotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos), a Russian prison, a perilous jungle and more.
Red Notice derives inspiration from many properties, most notably Indiana Jones and James Bond. While there’s nothing wrong with “stealing from the best,” Red Notice fails to make what it’s stolen its own. Thurber includes every film stereotype and heist trope in the book.
It’s a derivative flick that relies too much on Reynolds’ incessant barrage of sarcastic one-liners to keep the audience entertained. That’s not to say the dialogue isn’t funny, but when it’s one sardonic or self-deprecating quip after another, you start to wonder when the genuine moments will come.
Of course, that’s Reynolds’ shtick — he’s the hilariously dry leading man armed to the teeth with witty japes. At this point, he and Wade Wilson are one person.
Johnson and Gadot don’t impress where performances are concerned, but they certainly deliver on the action front. Arya, who impressed me as Lila Pitts on The Umbrella Academy, is severely underused here. Diamantopoulos plays the mustache-twirling, bombastic villain you’d expect to see in a 1960s action film. That said, he speaks in a quiet voice, so the character lives up to his name.
Perhaps I went in with high expectations, but I found the unoriginal bits to be less than gripping. We’ve seen the “good guy bands together with a known criminal to take down a common enemy” story played out before. Sure, the good guy loathes the baddie initially, but a bond forms, and now they like each other!
Red Notice’s pacing doesn’t seem to find its footing till the end. The story inconsistently chugs along, leaning on Reynolds and familiar thriller plot points to move forward. Admittedly, despite Reynolds’ occasionally tiresome stream of jokes, he’s the best part of the film.
The movie’s big twist comes out of left field, and it arrests your attention. But it feels like it’s too little, too late at that juncture.
One thing’s for sure — the flick embraces that “opulently, ridiculously wealthy” style with its sleek characters and breathtaking scenery. The multiple settings are a visual feast for the eyes, and Steve Jablonsky‘s thrilling score seeks to emulate that Bond aura, and it succeeds in doing so.
If an action-adventure set among rich backdrops, Ryan Reynolds-as-Deadpool one-liners and fight scenes are what you’re looking for, then Red Notice delivers. If you’re on the hunt for something with more originality, then you might want to look elsewhere. While the film eventually unveils a decent-sized twist, you have to stick with it to get there.
Red Notice is currently in select theaters, with a wider release slated for Netflix on Friday, November 12.
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