In some ways, a film is like a date. It doesn’t matter how badly you want it to work or how good it looks on paper, if there’s no passion or spark there is nothing. RED NOTICE is very much a film that looks good on paper… almost too good. From its stars to its plot and CGI-saturated effects, RED NOTICE feels like what you would get if you asked a computer program to generate a hit film. As separate ingredients – talent, action set pieces, etc. – it should be a delightful ride. The unfortunate result is that RED NOTICE is paint-by-number for Netflix. Paint-by-number on a Guggenheim budget.
RED NOTICE brings triple the star power with Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, and Ryan Reynolds (proof that packing a film with stars can only take you so far) and is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber; who is responsible for another Dwayne Johnson action vessel, Skyscraper. The premise of RED NOTICE is painfully pedestrian. A man of the law chases down a notorious art thief. Lawman is framed. Cop and criminal must team up to escape prison, stop the even more notorious art thief, and save the day.
Johnson and Reynolds make an expectedly hilarious odd couple, with both actors having “their thing” and doing that thing for the duration. Dwayne Johnson is stoic and no-nonsense, but with just enough warmth and humor to toss off a one-liner between punches. Ryan Reynolds is up to his usual sarcastic shenanigans, unleashing a ceaseless torrent of zingers paired with slightly bumbling physical comedy. Gal Gadot smolders from one scene to the next and it’s all so… meh.
Star power can cover up a world of hurt and it is the performances of Johnson and Reynolds that make this watchable, even if it’s not lovable. Both actors have instantly recognizable archetypes and bring a consistent and familiar energy to RED NOTICE. If you enjoy watching The Rock, you will enjoy him here. If you get a kick out of Ryan Reynolds’ smart-assery, this film delivers. Unfortunately, however, once the shine of watching these two stars play wears off the viewer is left with very little.
Frankly, RED NOTICE is forgettable. In fact, this critic did find herself forgetting it even as she was screening it. As a viewer, you feel every second of the nearly two-hour runtime and it’s criminal. the film feels less like a compelling story or heart-pounding adventure and more like a checklist. The film is a mongrel of heist, comedy, and action tropes that seem to unfold dispassionately before our eyes. As a Netflix film, in particular, RED NOTICE is difficult to place. It lacks the soul of some Netflix dramas and simultaneously feels too “small potatoes” for its stars, while definitely not grand enough in scope to register as a “theatrical” feature.
RED NOTICE is uninspired, uninteresting, and unforgivably bland. Its only redeeming quality is its stars and, even then, their talents are underutilized. For Netflix: Just because you could produce something like this, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. For the viewers at home: Again, RED NOTICE hits the bottom threshold for being a competent showcase of Reynolds and Johnson’s familiar brand of performance. As a passive, casual watch there may be something there. Not so, for this viewer.
RED NOTICE is now available on hits Netflix.