Take three highly talented actors, place them in a hefty-budgeted film, and have them indulge in pop culture references and meta jokes to produce a new action-adventure comedy.
Thanks for the notice, Netflix. You can take your subscriber account to newer heights buoyed by the star power of Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious and Jumanji series), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool and Free Guy), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman). I mean, if people are into self-consciously ridiculously juvenile and derivative works, then everyone wins. Or sorry, it’ll warrant a success.
But, since the plot is almost absent in the face of these three major stars, we have got issues. And yeah, some can claim this breezy and slick work is their cup of tea. Still, consider that ninety-two percent of the feature is tattered cliches, contrived narrative elements, and beats from a cornucopia of other film works. In that case, it has no business existing at all. Heck, it could have instead been a 15-minute interview on YouTube where the stars play off their images like Johnson flexing his massive muscles or Reynolds’ unrivaled comedic capabilities or Gal Gadot singing along wonderfully. It’ll make money and win people over and doesn’t take 160+ million dollars to do so.
The plot of Red Notice follows some preposterous storyline about Cleopatra’s priceless eggs, and each becomes lost in history. One sits in a museum in Rome, another belongs to a private collector named Sotto Voice (Chris Diamantopoulos), and the third is to become found in the third act. So, the FBI’s top profiler, agent John Hartley (Johnson), arrives at the gallery in Italy with Inspector Urvashi Davis (Ritu Arya) to prevent the first egg from being stolen. The only issue is a famous thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds), intercepts the egg first and barely escapes.
Then, two days later, Hartley catches Booth, but the egg gets stolen by another individual known as “The Bishop” (Gadot herself). She frames Hartley as a fugitive, and he gets sent to a Russian gulag to be best buddies with dun-dun-duh, Booth himself. Now, both men plan to work together (sister-wives, as Reynolds says at one point) to escape and attempt to get the other eggs before The Bishop grabs them to earn a massive payday of 300 million dollars.
And the story takes so many twists and turns that it feels as if we’re in a spoof of Scary Movie or Hot Shots!. I mean, if Johnson and Co. wanted to take another derivative route (as done with Skyscraper), they might as well have done a remake of Airplane! or created Deadpool 3. Well, it would have to be titled Deadpool: Two and Three-Quarters of a **** because Disney now owns the character. The film references Pulp Fiction, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park and sometimes feels like a Mission Impossible/James Bond work with a dose of Reynold’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard banter. It’s not original; it’s painfully repetitive and stagnant.
Johnson’s continued collaboration with director Rawson Marshall Thunder (after Central Intelligence and Skyscraper) is tiresome, and Johnson should consider freshening up his monotonous character (that we witness in almost every single movie he’s in nowadays). Ryan Reynolds is a treat, and Gal Gadot is fantastic, but both also needed better material. The megastars are the only bright spots of this empty, frivolous work, and all deserved better. Perhaps once they head back to the superhero genre in the future (a la Black Adam, Deadpool 3, and Wonder Woman 3), it’ll make us revere them more.
Like other blockbuster Netflix films, Extraction and Bird Box, Red Notice will likely become lost in the fog of memory in a few months from now. Maybe that’ll put the streaming platform on “red notice.”