The only thing this heist comedy for Netflix steals is your time.
“Red Notice” only tickled me twice. In one scene, Dwayne Johnson has to wear a hairnet in a prison kitchen, while his cellmate Ryan Reynolds asks him why and that he’s bald. And in the other scene, Reynolds steals a helicopter to escape from prison, and prepares to leave when he thinks Johnson isn’t going to make it. Johnson asks: “You we’re going to leave me?” Reynolds says: “No. I was going to take you with me in my heart.”
Other than those scenes, I sat next to a group of elderly people, whom I’ve heard laughing at select scenes, ones I didn’t even remotely giggle. In fact, it’s a pretty lousy heist action comedy that doesn’t even go for the heist game Danny Ocean would enjoy.
The plot is simple: Johnson is the FBI agent John Hartley, who manages to arrest professional thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) for a stolen golden egg belonging to Cleopatra, but ends up getting arrested for allegedly swapping that very same egg for a mock-up. Gal Gadot is the thief who framed him, and her code name is The Bishop.
Then it becomes complicated as Hartley and Booth are forced to collaborate to reach the last of the three golden eggs before The Bishop, so Hartley’s name will be cleared, but she beats them to the punch.
“Red Notice” is the third collaboration of Johnson and director Rawson Marshall Thurber, after the guilty pleasure “Central Intelligence” and the dull and routine “Skyscraper.” Here, he has to make Johnson a punching bag and a victim to the movie’s choice of lame comedy. He’s supposed to get tasered in his testicles and get hit by a bull, and he produced this thing, too. It’s also said to be the most expensive movie Netflix has produced (costing between $160 million to $200 million), but it still feels cheap.
And it’s not just Johnson who is misused. Reynolds, who was just hilarious and goodnatured in “Free Guy,” is mostly just trying to mimic his movie references and wacky gimmicks without pacing himself. And Gadot, who can do other movies outside her “Wonder Woman” and “Fast Five” roles, is too goofy to be taken seriously as the femme fatale. She thinks that making sexy smirks and whacking the two leading actors togethers is supposed to be entertaining. She’s supposed to know her styles and attitude without overdosing on them.
And there are three more wasted talents. Rita Arya (“Last Christmas”) has to be the Interpol inspector, who doesn’t believe Hartley, and she has nothing lively to offer. Chris Diamantopoulos sounds like he has a sore throat as the main arms dealer conceived in the heist plot. And Ed Sheeran makes his most embarrassing cameo since “Bridget Jones’s Baby” at a wedding.
When I saw the two funny scenes I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I was expecting it to be better than the intro suggests with that lame narrator and the generic framing plot. But after those scenes, the movie takes way too long, and so many plot twists that it’s difficult to see who the real villain is. That is if there was supposed to be a villain. But then again, it is a heist movie.
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