Red Notice is the third collaboration between writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Dwayne Johnson after Central Intelligence and Skyscraper. Toplining a blockbuster cast, with Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds joining Johnson in this action comedy, the Netflix release gets its title from the Interpol term referring to locating and arresting wanted persons.
Red Notice isn’t a serious heist film. The plot is feeble, but the A-list star power and humour are loaded enough to make the madness enjoyable.
FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson), on a tip-off from The Bishop (Gal Gadot), is in Rome, trying to foil the theft of an Egyptian egg, one of three priceless spherical jewels dating back to and belonging to Cleopatra. John is close on the trail of art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds), second in skill and reputation to the sharp and swift The Bishop, but always first with the glib one-liners.
Both are competing to be first to find the elusive third egg and complete the trio, which would make it a prize sale in the jewel thief market.
The race for the treasure takes them from Italy to Bali to Russia. When Hartley and Booth team up, the wisecracks fly fast and furious. Will they outwit The Bishop or will Interpol inspector Das (Ritu Arya) catch them before they get their hands on all three eggs? That’s the bare bones of the story. There’s a big twist towards the end, leaving the floor wide open for a sequel.
The backstory gives a fedora-shaped hat-tip to the Indiana Jones movies, with some very obvious tributes such as the treasure hunt, Nolan’s costume, and Nolan’s whistling of the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme tune.
There is something for the fanbase of each of the leads. The Deadpool devotee can expect trademark Reynolds humour, Wonder Woman fans can bank on Gadot glamorously delivering the goods. Johnson’s followers can be sure of self-deprecating jibes as well as chunks of action. The Johnson-Reynolds combine is a quintessential buddy comedy tie-up.
That the cast is having a good time is evident. And so they should, as this is the film’s greatest – and maybe only – appeal. As mindless entertainment built on silly jokes, a thin plot, visual effects and window dressing, Red Notice is a 117-minute distraction, easily forgotten in half that time.