It’s quite frightening just how algorithmically processed and safe Red Notice feels. Three of the industry’s most bankable stars, a lead ‘straight and funny man’ dynamic, a PG-13 rating, a slick glossy production style, globe-trotting structure and, of course, a celebrity cameo. Utterly generic in its narrative and character personalities, and only just about avoiding an even lower rating, due to its location variety and a couple laughs scattered throughout.
Written by Jack Ransom
Netflix’s most expensive film production of all time. Red Notice sees an FBI profiler (Dwayne Johnson) pursuing the world's most wanted art thief (Ryan Reynolds), who becomes his reluctant partner in crime to catch an elusive crook (Gal Gadot) who's always one step ahead.
Whilst never outright boring, Red Notice frequently struggles to be 100% investing. The ‘find the treasure’ plot crux has been done to death and you’ll be simultaneously forgetting events along the way, due to thinking of other more popular films in the same ballpark. Altered flashbacks to explain twists, heist plans being shown as they are told… it’s all unbelievably silly and familiar stuff, that frequently relies on ex-machina’s and honestly feels like parody at times, only to be counteracted with cliched attempts at character building and fractured backstories.
The myriad of locations keeps the film from feeling visually stagnated at least. From a castle-like Russian prison, to tropical jungles and a lavish Valencia-set masquerade ball. Unfortunately the budget utilised on the CGI and green screen is incredibly noticeable throughout, and you also get the sense that most of the dollars went on bagging the three leads. The action is middle of the road, forgettable mediocrity, that peaks in the opening chase scene, has a brief moment of goofy outlandishness in the prison escape, before delivering bland punch ups and shoots outs for the remainder of its runtime.
Honestly, despite his relentless promotion and praise for the project, Dwayne Johnson himself even feels like he’s not giving 100% here. Hartley is a budget Hobbs and nearly all of his dialogue between he and Booth (Reynolds) revolves around the tired “we’re not friends” routine and insults that he’s already done in Central Intelligence and Hobbs & Shaw. Reynolds is the most enthusiastic here and delivers his relentless barrage of quips, some stick, a lot fall flat and lastly Gal Gadot, whilst having a striking and beautiful presence, simply has nothing to work with here, and gives an antagonist performance that’s only slightly better than that Imagine video from last year.
Red Notice is forgettable, tasteless filler, that I only haven’t rated lower because it’s competently made and never was an outright chore to sit through. It is, however, derivative, cliched, features uninspired action set pieces and three leads who, despite what you’d expect, sorely lack chemistry and charisma at times throughout.