I have already seen one Ryan Reynolds action-comedy this year that is total screaming nonsense, so when I tell you that Red Notice is more or less fine, realize that I am grading on a curves. My nerves are still deadened from The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, so Red Notice passed in a harmless haze, not making me feel good, but definitely not making me feel as bad as Bodyguard. Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Red Notice stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, a trio of likeable screen presences designed to appeal to as many people as possible. Red Notice is designed with a similar mass appeal in mind, with broad comedy (“comedy”) beats and bog standard action sequences, and a blatantly franchising baiting ending that makes me hope there is no sequel, just out of spite. Stop doing this, movies! Just END!
As suave-ish thief Nolan, Reynolds gives an idea of what it might have looked like if he played Nathan Drake in the Uncharted movie. Nolan is a renowned art thief busy knocking over a museum in Italy when super-agent John Hartley (Johnson) shows up with Interpol in tow. The two end up destroying a major museum in the process of playing cat-and-mouse, and ultimately are set up at patsies for another renowned thief, The Bishop (Gadot). Does this sound twisty? It’s not! Red Notice has all the feel of a heist movie with a buddy cop dynamic between Nolan and Hartley, but it’s executed in the most basic way possible, with little flare or personality by Thurber. He certainly knows how to stage action sequences, and having worked with Johnson before on Skyscraper and Central Intelligence, he knows how to utilize The Rock. But still, Red Notice falls flat.
It is, at least, passably watchable. Like if you put this on while doing something else at home, you probably won’t mind it. But I kept thinking about Logan Lucky, a heist movie with memorable characters and a heist with real stakes for those characters, which are the missing elements in Red Notice. There’s just no there there. The characters are only memorable for the actor schtick inhabiting them: Nolan is a motor mouth smart ass, as are all Ryan Reynolds characters in films of this ilk; Hartley is The Rock; The Bishop is a sexy lady who kicks ass. What else about them? Nothing. There is nothing else. And what of the crime? Well, Nolan and The Bishop are each angling to be the best thief in the world, and Hartley wants to clear his name. Except maybe not?! Nothing matters, we keep changing sides!
Again, this is not the worst movie I’ve seen this year. I wasn’t mad after sitting through it. But I also have already forgotten it, and I bet you do, too, ten minutes after seeing it. There are lots of references to Indiana Jones and James Bond, but none of the wit or style of same. If you’re only halfway paying attention, you might not notice that Red Notice is all candy coating but no nougat center, but if you go in expecting to get something out of this, you will be disappointed. This is the definition of “checking boxes”. Every box is ticked for an action-comedy, and technically, every box is ticked for a heist movie, too. But there is no intention beyond the trappings, and even the seasoned stars are just going through the motions. The best thing to say about Red Notice is that Gal Gadot recovers some of the presence and verve lost in her last couple of outings as Wonder Woman. There are moments where she owns the screen that almost makes Red Notice memorable. Almost, but not quite.
Red Notice is now streaming on Netflix.