Rawson Marshall Thurber was chosen to helm “Netflix’s biggest film yet,” aka the big spectacle franchise starter, Red Notice, however, it has nothing to offer. It’s a lifeless hollow drag that suffers from every facet imaginable, including a trio of panache-less Hollywood stars, and a feeble narrative. Is this what blockbuster cinema has succumbed to?
What is a “red notice”? The highest-level warrant used to capture some of the world’s most wanted criminals, crooks, and assassins. Interpol sends out a red notice for two of the most notorious art thieves, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and The Bishop (Gal Gadot), as well as for accused FBI profiler, John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson). Why are they being hunted? The worldwide heist for Cleopatra’s three lost eggs and a thirty-million-dollar bounty for them.
There are many things to say about Red Notice, and none of them are positive. First, this film defines a blockbuster, and its existence is purely for monetary reasons. It follows every beat to chase the money and is showered with an intensely outrageous budget of almost two-hundred-million dollars. So, where was all the money spent? I couldn’t honestly tell you because after watching it you see that it is expensive but its scope and visualizations are appalling. Netflix is known to throw money at whatever project they may seem as profitable or one that might surge as a franchise starter, but this latest attempt feels like they are trying too hard and strains every nerve to get it to succeed.
Second, it is shot like an expensive sports-car commercial or a vodka advertisement. Every single scene lacks heft, tension, or emotional strain, leaving you with nothing but fancy clothes, expensive set designs, and the pricey faces of the three “acting superstars” trying to sell something that has scant cinematic weight. As it goes from Russia to Bali or Valencia to South America, the narrative, from the start, stumbles down ultimately, with a dull introduction that involves The Rock pouring a can of Coca-Cola to prove that one of the irreplaceable Cleopatra eggs have indeed been stolen. Product placement is one thing but making jokes about hundreds of products and pop-culture references is not a good idea if you don’t have the right joke puncher and writer (which this film does not).
Third, although the three have had their success in other roles, this shows us how little creativity they can have with their roles. They are doing their same little shticks for two hours: The Rock smoldering looks and rough comedic dialogue, Ryan Reynolds doing Deadpool again (as he did in Free Guy), and Gal Gadot having some fun but still ending up a bit cold and dry. In my opinion, it is getting a bit annoying watching them do the same things. Money-wise it’s a good formula, which is what Netflix wants, but do you think this will be worth it in the end? They alone can’t carry an entire film of this “stature”; they need other pieces built with them, not around them.
It often switches its lanes for the viewer to care; from James Bond to Indiana Jones, it never knows what it wants to be. Things happen for the sake of it as if it was directed or executively produced by Michael Bay. Was this a project destined to fail? Possibly, but we still give it a chance because Hollywood may surprise us at times. Nevertheless, Red Notice is nothing more than a complete and utter virulent Netflix affair.