“Red Notice” is 2021’s Biggest Money Pit: Film Review

160-200 million dollars. That’s how much Netflix spent on globetrotting adventure flick Red Notice, the streamer’s biggest spending push into the feature film space. However, after watching director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s latest film, you may feel like one of The Bishop’s (Gal Gadot) latest victims, asking yourself, “Where did all the money go?” Besides a handful of kinetic tracking shots, Red Notice is more a cartoony cultural relic unearthed from the 80s than a big budget foray into the future.

Red Notice follows FBI profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), and art thrives Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and The Bishop as the three race to discover and reunite Cleopatra’s three golden eggs and collect the $300 million dollar reward from an Egyptian ruler in the process. The journey takes them to exotic locations around the world, from a Russian gulag to the Argentinian jungle.

While the film attempts to become the next Mission Impossible, Indiana Jones, or Fast and the Furious, Red Notice‘s closest contemporary may be the hit USA Network show, White Collar. The Jeff Eastin created art crime drama followed Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), an FBI art crimes agent who had to team up with convicted art thief Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) in order to solve the greatest mysteries of the artistic world. The dynamic between Hartley and Booth in Red Notice is nearly identical to the verbal repartee of the White Collar duo. Thurber even grafts several major plot points from the USA show to compose the film’s out-of-left-field third act.

When Red Notice isn’t copying contentious relationships from basic cable television, it’s relying on the natural charisma of its stars. Unfortunately, Johnson and Reynolds’ schtick is so analogous to their previous roles that their performances come off as mimicry. They are unable to even slightly morph into unique characters, essentially playing themselves.

This isn’t any more clear than when the duo finds themselves in a shootout that ends up destroying priceless art pieces. Both Hartley and Booth are written to have art be an integral part of their lives, but in this one scene, it’s clear that the actors’ charisma trumps any sort of narrative and character rationality.

From the sleepwalking performances, pointless CGI, and incomprehensible plot twists, Red Notice is the poster child for incoherent excesses. Even with the immense financial backing of the world’s largest streaming company, Red Notice is destined to become as ‘remembered and revered’ as Skyscraper and 6 Underground.

The Silver Lining

Gal Gadot must be ecstatic about her $20 million dollar payday because she traipses through her role in Red Notice with more charisma than Johnson and Reynolds combined. Her role as the world’s greatest art thief, The Bishop, allows Gadot to be the winking devilish renegade that she seems born to play. Gadot showcases an ability to maintain chemistry with literally every individual her character encounters, from Johnson’s Hartley to the scene stealing IT professional.

Red Notice is clearly the first time Gadot has been able to have fun on screen since her supporting role in Fast Five nearly a decade ago. Hopefully, her recent casting as The Evil Queen in the Snow White remake will continue to let Gadot shine as a winking villainess.

Red Notice releases in select theaters on November 5th and on Netflix on November 12th.

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