Movie Review: Red Notice

A few years ago, the team at Netflix read the writing on the wall and realized that if they didn’t start producing their own content, and lots of it, they would run into problems as studios and distribution companies were likely to begin creating their own streaming services to more directly benefit from their libraries of films and television shows. Since then, the one-time DVD-by-mail service has become one of, if not THE largest maker of filmed entertainment in the world, with several projects being released pretty much every week. While they have had a good deal of success producing hit TV shows, their movie efforts have been somewhat less fortunate. Their latest attempt to engineer a global hit is Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Red Notice, and if you’ve ever found yourself wondering what an action-comedy would look like if the idea had been dreamt up by an algorithm-fed A.I., you’ve come to the right place.

The story opens with Special Agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) assisting Interpol to catch renowned art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) in the act of stealing one of three bejeweled eggs that once belonged to Cleopatra from the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. This very quickly leads to a foot chase through the museum that gets things off to a thrilling start. Unfortunately it’s mostly downhill from there, as the pair find themselves forced to work together after Hartley finds himself framed for the theft of the egg which has vanished on his watch. They both conclude that a figure known only as The Bishop (Gal Gadot) is behind it and set off to get the other two eggs before she can.

Aside from the initial chase and a later heist the duo plan to nab the second egg, very little here rises above being serviceable. Gadot feels woefully miscast in her role, switching between completely disinterested or giddily amused, neither of which suits the part. Reynolds’ wise-cracking schtick doesn’t really work here either, and the lack of anything particularly funny for him to say doesn’t help matters. Of the three leads only Johnson seems to come out alright, with his natural charisma helping to carry him through the movie. There are one or two mild laughs to be had, things move along at a decent clip, and the occasional double-cross helps to liven up an otherwise predictable plot that mostly feels like an amalgamation of ideas stolen from better movies. It’s not the worst way to spend a couple of hours but for Netflix it only really shows that they’re just as capable of producing instantly-forgettable big-budget nonsense as any old-school Hollywood studio, so I guess count that as a win for them? ★★

Available on Netflix.

Rated PG-13 for violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language.

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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