An entertaining but overall inconsequential romp, Red Notice coasts on the charm and likeability of its central trio.
A voiceover tells us of the significance of Cleopatra’s eggs – the bejewelled wedding present Antony presented Cleopatra with – and brings us up to speed. One is on display in a museum, the second is in a private collection. The last has been lost to the ages. John Hartley – the latest in a long line of stoic, get-the-job-done-at-any-cost agents that Dwayne Johnson has interchangeably played since Fast Five – makes a slick entrance. Hartley does some impressive work to demonstrate that the first egg – despite the arrogant museum curator’s assurances – has already been stolen. Watching on is the thief, who is predictably spotted by Hartley. A chase ensues but the mystery man ultimately gets away. Temporarily at least.
What follows is a fairly paint-by-numbers action film. There are certainly some enjoyable moments – Reynolds and Johnson being locked away together in a hardcore Russian prison leads to one of the film’s best set-pieces as they escape. And a lavish masquerade ball at an arms dealer’s mansion give the cast the opportunity to play dress up and bounce off each other in a fairly entertaining manner.
“Been There, Done That”
Ultimately though, the film feels like an exercise in “been there, done that”. There are action cliches aplenty, right down to the use of certain songs. If I never hear “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys (solid track though it is) in an action film again it will be too soon. The characters are little more than broad archetypes, reliant on the relative appeal of the leads to breathe life into them – with mixed results.
Reynolds’ appeal is largely dependent on how you feel about his Deadpool shtick. His constant quipping and occasional fourth-wall breaking seems to be the default setting in his performances these days. Personally, I think it works in certain films but in this is a little wearing and on the nose. Johnson plays – well Dwayne Johnson, in a nice leather jacket. The standout here really is Gal Gadot, who has a lot of fun at the expense of these two. As the rival to Reynolds’ character, she is the antagonist and is constantly one step ahead of the two men. She plays it with a wry smile and a wink, and is probably the pick of the leads in terms of performance.
There are some fun sequences, and the budget – reportedly the biggest in Netflix’s history – is on clear display. Visually the film is very impressive and goes to some exotic locations, but it all feels a little redundant. We’ve seen the same things done better in the past. Ultimately if you’re having a lazy Sunday afternoon and want to put something on that won’t tax you, Red Notice is that kind of film. But it struggles to establish itself in an oversaturated market full of better examples of this kind of storytelling. It is at times entertaining, but ultimately the kind of film where you struggle to remember anything significant about its plot an hour or two after watching.
Red Notice is streaming on Netflix now.
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