Red Notice (2021)
"Red Notice" stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, and Chris Diamantopoulos. Released on November 5, 2021, the film has an Interpol agent encountering an art thief and a con artist.
The film was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who also directed films such as "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story", "Central Intelligence", and "Skyscraper". If you want to catch the biggest criminals in the world, you're going to need the toughest FBI agent in the world. This weekend brings us another blockbuster with big names and big action, and it's from Netflix. That's right. We are treated with yet another film that Netflix is releasing in theaters a week before its streaming debut. I still find it to be a remarkable strategy from Netflix, especially for people who don't have the money to get the service. This big-budget action comedy marks the latest collaboration between Dwayne Johnson and Rawson Marshall Thurber, who has surprisingly been doing well with the action elements so far as opposed to handling comedy. I thought "Central Intelligence" was humorously entertaining, and Thurber's attempt at making a full-on action thriller in "Skyscraper" was tolerable despite being a "Towering Inferno" rip-off. So I was pretty ecstatic to see if the director could copy that same success with three of the most popular actors sharing the same screen. With that said, let's see if this red notice is worth activating.
The film centers on John Hartley (Johnson), a top profiler for Interpol. He is tasked to track down an art thief named Nolan Booth (Reynolds), who seeks to steal Cleopatra's priceless eggs, which were hidden across the globe. When John is framed by a con artist named Sarah Black (Gadot) for a crime he didn't commit, he's forced to cooperate with Nolan to retrieve the eggs, bring Black to justice, and clear his name. Netflix had a lot of faith in this film, mainly because of its cast and the marketing campaign. You got Johnson riding high in his acting career, Reynolds continuing his successful comeback that started with "Deadpool", and Gadot making a big name for herself thanks to her portrayal as Wonder Woman. Having these three talented people on board would definitely earn this film huge viewing numbers for the streaming service. But, of course, as we all know, having famous actors on the same screen doesn't always make the project good. "Red Notice" is an unfortunate example of that situation. However, I wouldn't call this one a complete train wreck for Netflix as it offered a couple of okay moments in its action and cast. There's even that one twist that managed to surprise me more than the other ones. You'll know what I mean when you watch it for yourself. Aside from that, the film is an unsatisfying treasure hunt that stands in the shadows of better "mismatched action comedies". The actors were watchable in their roles. Dwayne Johnson was his usual badass self regarding his role as John Hartley, and Reynolds was suitably tolerable as Nolan. Unfortunately, when compared to his previous films like "Deadpool" and "Free Guy", this might've been his weakest performance in his recent run so far in terms of comedy. Reynolds did the best he could. I could give him that. With Johnson and Reynolds sharing the screen, you would think that their chemistry would help get the film off the most-wanted list. Sadly, that's not the case. Despite a couple of tiny, chuckle-worthy moments, the chemistry between the two leads just went through the motions of other "mismatched partners" scenarios from the past without a single charismatic spark whatsoever. Again, they tried their best, but in the end, it made me wish that Johnson and Kevin Hart would make another film together. The real highlight of the cast, in my opinion, was the marvelous Gal Gadot as Sarah Black. There's something about her that made me go, "Wow, she's so devious, but also so captivating." Like how Black handles the film's heroes, Gadot easily shines above the rest with a performance that's more fun than watching two main leads make fools out of one another. Ritu Arya struggled to keep up with the leads due to her mediocre portrayal of Inspector Urvashi Das, Hartley's partner. Das didn't do that much else other than doing her job, resulting in her being an uninteresting supporting character. Besides the shocking twist near the end, Thurber's screenplay was pretty formulaic right from the get-go. From its soulless wit to the mediocre dialogue and bland visuals, the story relied heavily on showing the actors' good looks and costumes rather than making its genre cliches more endearing and fun. On the bright side, the action sequences were nicely handled by Thurber, although that's not saying much.
Overall, "Red Notice" is placed on the FBI's most-wanted list, and not in a good way. While the effort was there in some places, its faulty execution makes this a disappointing entry in the Johnson/Thurber saga. Gadot's performance and its enjoyable action scenes are the only reasons the film deserves your attention. Everything else, including its mediocre plot and forgettable humor, is the only crime that should not go unpunished. I wasn't too upset with how the film turned out, but I was surprised to see that it didn't live up to its promising potential regarding its star power and action-packed premise. It just goes to show that there's more to a fun action movie than just having big stars on the same screen.
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