Ever have those days when you’re looking to sit on the coach and enjoy a good B-movie? None of that high-art cinematic stuff that expends your emotional and intellectual capacity. What we want is to have some loud and dumb fun with plenty of action sequences and wise-ass jokes. Well we’ve got news for you, fellow coach potato. Netflix’s “Red Notice” is exactly what the doctor ordered. Not unlike the recent “Army of Thieves”, the film is an international heist comedy involving a crack team of specialists. The difference here is the amount of star-power on display. We’ve got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds aka Deadpool and Gal Gadot of “Wonder Woman” fame.
Talented actors who have headlined in major roles before. The question is: how they do as co-leads in a semi-self aware heist comedy? The answer: unsurprisingly well.
John Hartley is a FBI profiler on the hunt for the two most wanted art-thieves in the entire world. One’s a whip-smart, slimy master thief skilled in the art of the getaway with a fast mouth on him. The other is a beautiful but deadly manipulator with a pension for double-crosses and general mayhem. Hartley’s got his work cut out for him because he’s soon caught in a deadly game of treasure hunt. With a deadly arms dealer after them, the trio must band together to find the three bejewelled eggs of Cleopatra. All while Interpol hunts them down. So until they find a way to give the authorities the slip, they’re on Red Notice.
Look, is “Red Notice” formulaic and predictable in its execution? Yeah but so is every other Marvel film; what makes the film work is its confidence. The plot of the film leans into its zany and light tone with reckless abandon. Sure there are some moments of tension but they never feel like they’re grounded in a world with reak consequences. This will no doubt leave some expecting more dramatic heft deeply annoyed. Those coming to see their favourite actors riff off each other and have some fun will no doubt get exactly what they’re looking for.
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, though. Some scenes requiring the actors to sell believable backstories and past traumas fall completely flat. Like obligatory cutscenes in a video game, which is exactly how we would describe the film’s pacing. Whenever they’re not running after someone or pulling off an elaborate heist, they’re all trying to out-quip each other in a verbal roasting match. Rawson Marshall Thurber, the director and writer of the film, seems to be contented in making a sexier and more vulgar version of “National Treasure”. Which is not a problem if you’re looking to simply have a good time.
However, we did roll out eyes at some of the film’s contrivances. Especially the big twist at the end of the film. Let’s just say we’ve seen it before in a million other heist films before “Red Notice” and it was not nearly as well-executed as the others. As for the characters…what can we say? They’re all essentially heightened versions of the actors’ actual personalities. The Rock is the big, tough guy with a good heart who doesn’t by play the rules. Ryan Reynolds at this point should just wear his red mask 24/7 seeing that he’s always playing the same morally ambiguous, wise-cracking criminal who indulges in the occasional homoerotic tendency. Seriously, whenever he needs something funny to say, he just pulls out the bisexual card.
Their on-screen chemistry is fun for the most part. The Rock is usually known for playing the straight-man in these buddy-duo relationships. Here though, his character, Agent Hartley gives as he gets with some pretty funny one-liners. Reynolds, much like Johnny Depp, can always be counted on to have a witty comeback whenever the situation calls for it. Reynolds’ Nolan Booth is a lot less of an awkward and talkative trickster as the actor’s roles. In fact, there are times Booth manages to pull some genuinely clever moves on Hartley.
The real standout here though was watching Gal Gadot’s Sarah Black. Outside of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and maybe a handful of appearances in “The Fast and Furious” films, we haven’t had a chance to see how she fares outside big budget franchises – let alone in a heist comedy film. Spoiler alert, Gadot is a ton of fun to watch! We were worried that her character would play the sassy voice-of-reason but she gets into the banter as much as the other two. It’s refreshing to see Gadot break out of her more guarded, reserved gravitas to have some goofy fun with the boys.
Fun fact, “Red Notice” is Netflix’s most expensive film to date, with a budget of approximately $200 million USD, and it shows! Rawson Marshall Thurber has an eye for action set-pieces. One of the most memorable scenes in the entire film was a prison break that moved from highwire stealth to mad dash, all with a Michael Bayesque flair. Seeing that all three main actors have had some action-star experience, the trio manage to sell the physicality of their characters for the most part.
It’s a good thing that Thurber has some big, bold antics for our lovable trio because the villain here leaves much to be desired. Chris Diamantopoulos who played Russ Hanneman in HBO’s “Silicon Valley” has shown to have had excellent comedic chops. So to see him be reduced to the dull, whispery arms dealer, Sotto Voce was a major disappointment. For all of the film’s typecasting, they’ve made a major casting error here.
Netflix’s “Red Notice” is a solid heist-comedy carried on the shoulder of three very charismatic actors. Director and writer Rawson Marshall Thurber’s plot allows for plenty of chuckle-worthy moments and exciting action set-pieces. The film can be described as cinematic Mac & Cheese. Simple and indulget in all of its cheesy glory! If you’ve had a hard week at the office and are looking to unwind, be sure to give “Red Notice” a watch on Netflix today!
So what did you think of Netflix’s “Red Notice”? Who did you think stole the show among the three stars? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
You can also check out our exclusive interview with Ryan Reynolds here.
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Netflix's "Red Notice" Review
Netflix's "Red Notice" is a solid heist-comedy carried on the shoulder of three very charismatic actors. Director and writer Rawson Marshall Thurber's plot allows for plenty of chuckle-worthy moments and exciting action set-pieces. The film can be described as cinematic Mac & Cheese. Simple and indulget in all of its cheesy glory!
- Netflix's "Red Notice" Review