Netflix’s new original film ‘Red Notice’, a jam-packed action comedy starring the likes of Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, is, unlike the title suggests, nothing to be taken notice of. The film, which is reportedly Netflix’s most expensive production to date, follows Johnson as John Hartley, an FBI profiler who reluctantly teams up with the world’s second-best art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) to catch the world’s best art thief ‘The Bishop’ (Gal Gadot) after having been framed. The plot takes our three protagonists all around the globe, from Bali to Rome and even to an ancient tomb in South America, on an Indiana Jones-esque hunt to track down Cleopatra’s three golden eggs for a million-pound prize. However, despite its whopping budget and A-list cast, Red Notice lacks the kind of charm and charisma that is needed to carry a film of this size and is ultimately hollow. The headlining trio have such little chemistry, whether that be romantic or platonic, that it is hard to take real interest in their character storylines, never mind the fact that the movie is littered with stereotypes and clichés. For a Netflix original film, it is anything but original.
Given the director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s comedic background, with films such as We’re the Millers and Dodgeball under his belt, it is surprising that the comedy in the film fails to land. Reynolds, whose comedic timing and persona in the Deadpool franchise brought him popular and critical acclaim, finds himself conforming to the stereotype of the ‘funny bad guy’ and his witty remarks grow wearisome as the film progresses. Johnson and Gadot do little to help Reynolds – their characters are somewhat stale and do not provide the correct counterbalance to bounce off Reynolds’s energy. In essence, there is a distinct lack of successful ‘buddy-buddy’ humour in the film, which unfortunately is what it desperately needed. However, it must be noted that it is unusual to see Johnson not excel in his role here. Red Notice marks the third collaboration between Thurber and The Rock, having previously worked together in Central Intelligence and Skyscraper, and so it is not incorrect to have assumed that his familiarity with both the director and big-budget action films (see any of the hundred Fast and Furious films for reference) would help him carry the project. Instead, it seems that Johnson himself is unable to decide whether his character is really the hero or the villain in the movie, and he visibly tackles with this dilemma throughout. By this point, it is evident that he has long exhausted the fast-paced comedy action film set-up, which does not bode well considering two sequels for Red Notice are already in development.
The lacklustre characters aren’t in the least bit helped by the overall production of the film. Since it is designed to be a family friendly action-packed film, the seemingly never-ending gun fights become somewhat more absurd given that no one ever gets hit by an actual bullet. The sequences are shot well, but become repetitive and increasingly over-the-top as the film goes on (the car chase through an underground Argentinian abandoned copper mine into a waterfall did raise a few eyebrows in my living room). And if all of this wasn’t enough to confuse the audience, Ed Sheeran makes an unexpected, and unwanted, appearance towards the end of the film, reminding us all that he should stick to what he knows best – singing.
Altogether, Red Notice is a disposable film that its viewers will find hard to remember. The script fails to create a cohesive engaging storyline that simultaneously draws the audience in whilst differentiating itself from other films in the genre, in addition to failing to provide unique and developed characters with fully-fledged backstories. However, despite all of its failures, Red Notice has gone on to set the record all-time viewership for Netflix. So, here’s to the next two sequels, I guess.