Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year and you may recall a review for the Netflix movie, Outside the Wire. In said review, I mentioned this film was one of many new Netflix movies for 2021, with the streaming service promising to put out at least one new release every week for the rest of the year.
Fast forward to now, and while Netflix has kept that promise, with a succession of new films arriving on a weekly basis, a large number of these pictures have flown under the radar. Apart from a select few (Malcom & Marie, Army of the Dead, The Woman in the Window), few films have been high profile affairs.
All that changes this week with the release of Red Notice – a big budget adventure-comedy. Not only is Red Notice landing on Netflix alongside a limited theatrical release (in the US), the film stars three big-named actors: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot.
It also arrives surrounded by a great deal of publicity. The stars have been out promoting the film all this week, with Johnson in particular going into PR-overdrive to highlight its arrival.
So, as far as Netflix is concerned, this movie is one of its top tier releases. But is it worth all the buzz, and the big star names, or will it become yet more streaming fodder in the fullness of time?
Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, Red Notice follows the story of Special Agent John Hartley, an FBI profiler who is tasked with protecting a prized artefact. That artefact is a golden egg – one of three such treasures that once belonged to Cleopatra.
Out to steal the egg is world-renowned thief, Nolan Booth, who briefly gets the drop on Agent Hartley, before being caught red-handed and sent to prison. Thing is, Hartley also finds himself banged up, after being set up for stealing the same egg.
After finding common ground, Hartley and Booth join forces to escape incarceration. But as Hartley strives to clear his name, another thief, known as The Bishop, is working hard to obtain the eggs.
As all three cross paths, things get a little more complicated, and various set pieces get chucked at the screen. All the while, the audience scratches its head trying to figure out what is actually going on, while getting whiplash in the process.
If you’ve been waiting for Netflix to add something action-packed and entertaining to its line-up, then Red Notice is certainly this. The is an old school adventure romp, high on explosions and filled with plenty of gags and a country-hopping plot.
But know this: As entertaining as this film is at times, Red Notice is utter nonsense. The script is filled with clichés and contrivances, the characters are all one-note, and about three weeks after you have watched this movie, I guarantee you will forget what it was all about
What you will remember about Red Notice is its trio of famous faces. This film is essentially a vehicle for Johnson, Reynolds, and Gadot to sparkle on screen, and this is arguably the biggest selling point of the whole thing.
Love watching Ryan Reynolds delivering gag, after gag, after gag? You get this here in spades!
Want to see Gal Gadot kicking butt in some well-choreographed fight sequences? You can have that too.
And then there’s Dwayne Johnson doing exactly what he does best: being incredibly likeable. Johnson makes everything ten times more fun than it ever has the right to be, and here he is doing it again.
The combination of all three actors is the glue that holds this picture together. The rest is disposable fluff.
Now this is not to say that Red Notice doesn’t have its moments, because it does, but don’t expect to care about the story. In fact, don’t expect to really follow the story, because it is a jumbled mess.
The story exists purely to place the lead actors in a succession of wacky scenes (a prison breakout, a bull fight, a jungle exploration sequence, etc). The reason for all these scenes seems rather arbitrary, but the key thing here is that they appear on screen long enough to stick in the mind.
So, three weeks down the line, when you do forget what this film was all about, you will at least recall flashes of a jungle setting or a bull fight. And of course, you will also remember that this film had something to do with Nazis, because it involves historical artefacts and such, so why not?
I’d like to think Red Notice was lovingly put together, with a great deal of thought and effort going into the writing process. However, I can’t help but feel the story was constructed after writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber wrote down a load of ideas, put them all in a bag, and pulled some out at random.
A hunt for three golden eggs? Sure!
A rocket launcher being fired directly at a helicopter? Hell, yeah!
An electric shock to the nuts?! Well, that might be going a little too far, but OK!
Red Notice is essentially a movie which is stitched together from all of these ideas and more. It feels like something concocted by an eight-year-old, who is pretending they are on some imaginary Indiana Jones-style adventure.
None of it makes any sense, yet parts of it are kind of enjoyable in places. But at the same time, it is also a load of rubbish.
The best way to sum this film up is by saying watching Red Notice is an experience – you know it happened, you know you were there, but you don’t really have a clue if it was worth it or not. Johnson, Reynolds, and Gadot are always enjoyable to watch so this is a strong plus point, but the rest is a bit of a mess.
If you want a brainless blockbuster, there are worse things you could be watching and there’s enough going on in this movie to cause plenty of distractions. However, this is not really an endorsement, nor is this a good film, it’s just two hours of things happening – and that’s about it.
Netflix promised new films every week, and this is arguably one of its biggest and most expensive to date. But sadly, biggest doesn’t always mean the best, and I can’t help but feel this was a waste of money.