Red Notice Movie Review: Great cast, but that's it really
The film slips into a state of languor, in the possible optimism that it can simply coast on average dialogues and convenient twists. Alas
It’s hard not to be excited when the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot unite for a globe-trotting heist comedy. Between them, you know that they have comedy, action, style, charisma…all of it locked down. And yet, there’s no evidence of this in the latest Netflix film, Red Notice. The rudimentary story setup isn’t really the problem—good films of this genre make do with even worse. This film begins with FBI agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), out to nab famous art thief, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), while The Bishop (Gal Gadot)—named for reasons I never truly understood—has a scheme of her own. There’s something about Cleopatra’s eggs—of the Faberge variety—and how a fortune can be made out of collecting three of them that are, of course, placed across the world in clandestine locations. So far, so good, you think. Now, it’s really up to the film and its cast to deliver on the promise of 'popcorn entertainment'. The film was acquired by an OTT platform, so that put paid to the popcorn. What about the entertainment then? Unfortunately, there’s not much of it in this film that seems to mistake location-hopping for excitement.
Streaming On: Netflix
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya
Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, in particular, have established themselves as exponents in humour, and yet, despite all the screen-time they get, the film is found wanting both in humour and in the chemistry between these leads. Nolan’s suggestions that John is in love with him, get tiresome quickly, and yet, the film repeats this idea over and over again. The reveals in the film are insipid, and its many desperate attempts at witty one-liners, tasteless. Perhaps Ryan Reynold’s Nolan best summarises it all, when he looks frustrated that yet another clever plan of his has been thwarted by Gal Gadot’s character, who conveniently steps in from nowhere—like in a bad stage play. Nolan exclaims: “Your entrances are bull****!” It’s hard not to agree with him.
There’s a strange thread about father issues that connects all the main characters in this film. Nolan is the victim of a cold father, while John Hartley suffers from estrangement. Even the bad guy (Chris Diamantopoulos) confesses to having put a bullet in his father’s head. These inorganic attempts to root the cold actions of the film’s main characters in some deep, psychological damage, has only the effect of making you feel awkward—somewhat like John Hartley who feigns sleep, so he can sign out of Nolan’s back story.
And it’s all such a pity because right at the beginning, there’s some evidence of what this film could have been. There’s an imaginative stunt sequence choreographed on a scaffold, there’s an entertaining chase that establishes Nolan’s talents at wriggling out of tight corners. Perhaps buoyed by these ideas, the film slips into a state of languor, in the possible optimism that it can simply coast on average dialogues and convenient twists. Alas.
Right at the beginning, Dwayne’s John Hartley, when on the heels of a suspect, forcibly takes possession of a gorgeous white Porsche, even as composer Steve Jablonsky shows his excitement with strains of happy rock. John takes a deep breath in the car’s luxurious interiors and presses the ignition. Barely does he step on the accelerator when a van crashes into the car from nowhere, wrecking it. In a way, this scene succinctly summarises the film for me. You get taken in by the early promise and wait to be thrilled, to be amused, to laugh out loud, to care, to be shocked by the twists… but perhaps the biggest shock is how this film, which crashes too soon like the Porsche, makes you feel nothing.