TL;DR – Personality can only go so far in covering over narrative shortcomings
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix subscription that viewed this film
Red Notice Review –
Heists, betrayals, double-crosses, and more. Look, these films are usually my jam. Watching two groups try to outmanoeuvre each other, not knowing if a plan will succeed or fail, is a lot of fun. When you get a film that fails on that front, it can be more disappointing than usual.
So to set the scene, apparently, when Cleopatra and Mark Anthony married, Marc presented her with three ornate eggs. With their deaths, the eggs were thought a myth until two were found by accident. Today, one of the eggs is held in the museum in Rome … or is it. For FBI profiler on art crime John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) has had a tip-off that notorious thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) is about to steal it. Insert action scene here.
There are a lot of things you can base a film around. It could be a new visual style, it could be the narrative, or it could be the sheer force of will from the personalities of the actors. Can this work, well yes, see The Hitman’s Bodyguard. However, when you are using this to cover for narrative shortcomings, well you hit diminishing returns quickly. I think it helps that Ryan and Dwayne have worked together in the past in Hobbs & Shaw, so they have that bond. But that can only go so far.
If there is one thing I liked, it was how they incorporated the different physicalities into the action scenes. You can see that in the first fight through the museum and the streets of Rome. You have Ryan Reynolds free-flowing through the renovated museum fighting up a set of scaffolding. At the same time, Dwayne Johnson used brute strength and his ability to read maps to outmanoeuvre him. It is also a neat little thing that they both go out of their way not actually kill the museum guards.
The issues are that narratively this film is a mess. Characters act in ways that are incongruent with who they purport to be. For example, in the opening fight, Hartley throws Booth through a supposed ancient stained-glass window or everything Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) does after Bali. The more you see it, the more things happen because the plot needs it to, rather than because it felt natural for the story. There are more arguments and snarking than actual banter, and it all becomes noise after a while.
As well as issues with the narrative, there are also problems with the production. There was an absolute tonal inconsistency between some well-designed sets and location work and scenes that were clearly filmed with a green screen backing. There needed to be more time given to the compositing with the visual effects and lighting to get them to fit together. More than that, the film had a habit of explicitly referencing better films throughout its runtime. Like the tango scene from True Lies, they give Sarah Black (Gal Gadot) an ancient spear during a fight scene ala Wonder Woman, and I mean, they literally hum the Indiana Jones theme at one point.
In the end, do we recommend Red Notice? Well, look. It is watchable if nothing else. But in a way, that is going to be completely forgettable almost once the credits start rolling. I would not go out of my way to watch this one. If you did like Red Notice, I would recommend to you Ocean’s 8.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Red Notice
Directed by – Rawson Marshall Thurber
Written by – Rawson Marshall Thurber
Music by – Steve Jablonsky
Cinematography by – Markus Förderer
Edited by – Michael L. Sale
Production/Distribution Companies – Flynn Picture Company, Seven Bucks Productions, Bad Version, Inc. & Netflix
Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Chris Diamantopoulos, Ritu Arya, Ivan Mbakop, Vincenzo Amato, Rafael Petardi & Ed Sheeran
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13