- Release Date: 12/11/2021
- Platform: Netflix
- Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds
- Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Red Notice stars three of the most charismatic actors in modern Hollywood. Be it “The Rock”, Ryan Reynolds, or Gal Gadot, they almost always play themselves in every character that the makers put them in. whether or not the characters they play work depends on two factors. First – how close the characters they are playing are to the three star’s actual selves and mojo and second- whether or not the audience in question is a fan of their brand of humor, physicality, goofiness, and oomph (in the case of Gadot). Thus when I walked into Red Notice, I had some specific expectations, and whether or not I came out of it satisfied depended on how many of those expectations were met.
The film is essentially about three McGuffins known as Cleopatra’s Eggs that are the most elusive and sort after object in the world of art. An Egyptian Billionaire wants to gift the three eggs to his daughter (also known as Cleopatra) at her wedding and puts out a huge bounty for anyone who can deliver the three eggs to him before the wedding. Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), a highly skilled and charismatic thief sets his sight on the bounty. He steals the first egg, knows the location of the second, and is rumored to know the location of the third that most people believe has been lost to time. Another skilled thief, Bishop (Gal Gadot) is giving Booth tough competition for being the best thief in the world. She is also after the same bounty and the two quickly spiral into a deadly game of wits, betrayal, and skills. Hot on the heels of the two thieves is an FBI agent, John Hartley (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), who is neither as fast as the two thieves nor as smart as they are. However, he is relentless in his pursuit of the two and bull-headed in his approach. The two soon realize that there is no getting away from him and try to deal with him in their own ways. What happens next is what the film is all about.
Red Notice is a film that if you look at through the lenses of logic and realism will immediately put you off and turn into a laughable offering. However, if you are a fan of the three leading stars or even just enjoy their brand of entertainment and comedy, the film will be a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining experience for you. While the proceedings are peppered with conducive coincidences and marred by lapses of logic, the three stars are so effective in their respective characters and bring about so much charm and energy in their renditions, that it is not difficult to ignore the deficiencies and just have a good time with the film.
The makers ensure that there is just enough seriousness in the proceedings and the path that the film takes to reach its end objective so as not to feel completely clichéd or uninspiring. The characters are often put in harm’s way and these sequences are dealt with some amount of seriousness. This ensures that these sequences are thrilling and makes the audience feel that the men and woman could be in serious trouble thereby inducing some tension into the narrative.
The writing of the film ensures that there are no dull moments. The plot is always on the move and the fact that the characters often change sides ensures that there is a lot of oscillation in the balance of the relationships that they share with each other leading to some interesting twists and turns. The three McGuffins are to be stolen in three elaborate heists and the layout and execution of these heists are enjoyable, to say the least. We don’t get to see the first heist but the chase sequence that follows post the pickup is exhilarating and executed with a lot of energy. The second heist is pulled off with elaborate planning and is thrilling to watch. There is also a prison break sequence that I enjoyed immensely. The film has some wonderfully conceived action sequences that have enough seriousness to merit credibility and yet are laced with humor and quirky one-liners that are a trademark of the “Ryan Reynolds” brad of action.
All said and done, the only ones who will enjoy this film will most definitely be the ones who enjoy the performances of Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds.
Ryan Reynolds has been playing the same smooth-talking, quirky comic hero ever since Deadpool became a rage. The fact that his dialogs are so well-written and his comic timing so spot on ensures that his character is just as enjoyable as his numerous other outings. His camaraderie with Dwayne Johnson works well and feels organic. The two are seen playing off of each other and that adds a lot to the overall likeability of both. I just loved the expressional comedy of Ryan Reynolds that in some way felt a lot more pronounced here than many of his more successful previous essays.
Gal Gadot is drop-dead gorgeous in the film. Her character is a lot more fun than the monotonous outings that she has been having off late. Her character here has more humor than any other character that she has done before and that allows her to display her acting guiles and she doesn’t disappoint. She proves to be the perfect blend of funny and glamorous in scenes that she shares with Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. Her role is peppered across the narrative as moments of oomph and charm. They invariably work and make the audience wait for her next appearance.
Dwayne Johnson is someone who could just standstill in a frame and still extract excitement from the audience. He is one of those few actors who has been playing the same version of himself for the longest of duration that I can think of. He still remains fresh, entertaining, and funny. His character here is no different but when you have so much to appreciate in a performance that a man has honed over years of iterating the same version, there remains no room for any complaints. Atleast that will be the case with all the people who walk into this film expecting what they expect from every Dwayne Johnson film.
Johnson’s camaraderie with someone like Ryan Reynolds who himself is a livewire and whose brand of comedy is so different from Johnson’s is very interesting. In them, you have a couple of guys who are at the top of their game and are self-aware enough to crack jokes on their own appearance, sense of comedy and acting. This is one of the biggest strengths of the film. It knows well what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else. There is even a scene in the film where we see the character of Ryan Reynolds address the eggs as McGuffins.
I had a set of expectations from this film and it ticked all the right boxes for me. This is the kind of disposable entertainment that we need from time to time to get away from the claustrophobia of the day-to-day grind of professional life. There is no messaging, no forced diversity agenda, and no political maneuvers. It is just 2 hours of mindless, non-stop entertainment that knows how silly and outrageous it is. If you are looking for logic and realism, this is not the film for you. All those who want to bask in the glory of three superstars who are as charming as they are captivating, look no further.