Cr: Frank Masi / Netflix © 2021

Film Review – Red Notice (2021)

Oh dear, oh dear, this isn’t going to be pretty but stick with us and we shall explain why Red Notice, the latest big-budget film from Netflix which they purchased after a bidding war a couple of years ago as their next “event” film (worth $200million, no less) is a Real damp squid. You can see the appeal for them: not only do they get the kind of huge-scale crowd pleasing film that would trek around the world through exotic and beautiful locations, it had also brought together three of the biggest stars in Hollywood in recent years in Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. Add to the mix writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber who brought Dodgeball, Central Intelligence and Skyscraper to the screen, all of which found audiences. An easy – very easy – win for Netflix? On paper, sure. In practice? Nowhere close.

A Red Notice is Interpol’s biggest weapon: a law enforcement that can arrest and extradite the most-wanted criminals on the planet. In the film’s case, it’s what FBI profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) hopes to enforce to capture renowned thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and bring him to justice. Soon, however, their paths cross in unexpected ways when another high-profile and most wanted thief known as The Bishop (Gal Gadot) enters the fray to play the men off each other in order to steal the long lost eggs of Cleopatra.

If this had been made and released in 2000, maybe even 2010 this would have been a slam-dunk, a hugely successful comedy/action/adventure romp with three huge stars at the height of their powers doing what they do best: entertaining the hell out of us. With their signature styles and effervescent personalities, the thought of this headlining trifecta should have been music to our ears, soaring on the wings of their natural charisma – in Reynolds‘ case his expert comedic timings – but what transpires feels and sounds more like the nails-on-chalkboard type of annoyance many of us despise, screeching from one bloated, over-bearing set piece to another without the skill or panache that they and its filmmaker possess.

Such is the magnitude of the failings of Red Notice that it will be hard to muster the thought process to comprehend just how this one has ended up being such a thudding thud. Thurber, who brought those aforementioned action efforts to the screen with plenty of might and tension, doesn’t feel quite at ease with this one, playing more like a greatest hits of his favourite films (Indiana Jones, Pulp Fiction, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to name a few) than anything new and dynamic. Indeed, you wonder why his stars were needed at all given that it seems most of the action is done by stuntmen – normal enough but when it’s this blatant and obvious, it’s hard to see the point. Indeed, Thurber’s usual flair for comedy is lacking and despite all three’s best efforts in particular even he can’t salvage much from this increasingly annoying effort.

Of course, many will get a kick out of this one despite what is said about the film given that cast and the simplistic nature of the film will fall into many people’s “Yeah, stick it on” streaming mantra. But as an exercise in both an epic adventure fuelled by the powerhouses above the title, it falls to the ground as much as Johnson does throughout only without the ability to get up and fight on another day. If this, too, was hidden for hundreds of years, the box it was in would be labelled “Caution: crushing disappointment inside

★ 1/2

Action, Comedy | USA, 2021 | 12 | 12th November 2021 | Netflix / CInema | Dir.Rawson Marshall Thurber | Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos