I have no idea as to whether or not Rawson Marshall Thurber’s Red Notice is a movie that should work or if its premise spelled doom before production even began. I like giving movies a chance. Let’s talk about the premise then. Dwayne Johnson plays John Hartley, an FBI officer who is somehow helping the Interpol catch the world’s second best art thief. That man Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), who is on his way to one of Cleopatra’s three golden eggs.
After finishing that job though, the actual best art thief, The Bishop/Sarah Black (Gal Gadot), sets him up to look like a fake fed. This landing him in a Russian prison (?) where his cellmate happens to be Booth. Booth wants all of the eggs from The Bishop, Nolan wants to bring The Bishop down to clear his name. Those two opposing goals obviously intersect and the only choice they have is to work together. In working together, this movie shows the action of people who probably have more street smarts than me.
Prison makes people like me give up while they escape and even find ways to avoid certain deaths via weapons like RPGs or whatever you call them, I’m not a videogame nerd. Anyway, the movie displays those smarts through one set piece after another which shows off Johnson’s agility. A body can either be agile or bulky but he somehow manages to be both, good for him. His hands clings on to a helicopter railing. The movie’s way of depicting such action scenes makes me wonder if they’re really in Russia or Siberia or if they’re on a backlot somewhere.
Another thing I’d say about Red Notice that is positive is that Johnson’s recent films make him look invincible that it’s nice to see a woman kick his ass once in a while. And that it has Gadot wearing a hoodie like the rest of us. Either way, despite showing its viewers different countries like Italy and Russia and Spain, it doesn’t commit enough to its willing suspension of disbelief. And yes, each country comes with its own colour palette, making that palette diverse enough as a whole.
A fight scene takes place in a storage room in Valencia. A few images there have the potential for greatness but it’s as if the movie doesn’t lets those images soak in. It reminds me of what fellow contributor Tom said about an image in The Eternals, that its few great images fleet to quickly. Maybe I’m stealing from him, maybe we’re both pointing out something symptomatic within contemporary blockbusters/ streaming filler.
Red Notice‘s script has a lot of exposition, some of it taking place in a prison. There are a lot of things I would do in a prison. And none of them involve me divulging my plans to someone who was my worst enemy 24 hours prior. Other moments of exposition happen when Gadot is talking. There’s especially one scene where she literally walks into a torture chamber holding two little champagne bottles. It’s like she’s that woman who dances with finger guns and enters a gay bar with a tiara. Here she appropriates camp, as if she wants a role that will get her a gay fan base. Not gonna happen, gal, you know what you did.
Filler is what this movie looks like visually, eventually eschewing natural scenes and the occasional dramatic lighting for sludge. And those sludgy set pieces are when reveals happen. When the movie reveals who really is who. And who they secretly work with and that acrimonious people should work together. Sure, those reveals are convenient so that Johnson doesn’t have to be in certain scenes with certain people. Without giving too much away, it reminds me of a tweet saying that he has no chemistry with any of his female co-stars. This is just one of the things that make this movie not work.
Watch Red Notice in theatres and on Netflix.