Three of the biggest movie stars on the planet have joined forces with the leader in streaming entertainment to deliver its most expensive blockbuster to-date. Red Notice, coming to Netflix on November 12th after a one-week stint in theaters, combines the charismatic talents of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot for a globe-trotting crime caper. With three people so widely loved teaming up for a familiar concept, Red Notice is designed to get your attention with little more than a thumbnail and allow you to smile in front of a television for two hours.
Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what it does. It’s the fun, carefree movie everyone expected it to be.
Written and directed by Skyscraper filmmaker Rawson Marshall Thurber, Red Notice follows disgraced FBI agent John Hartley (Johnson) and notorious art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) as they try to find the legendary third egg of Cleopatra, a priceless artifact that has been hidden since the days of Ancient Egypt. Around every turn, the two are duped and outmaneuvered by a clever crime kingpin named The Bishop (Gadot). Not only are Hartley and Booth on the run from the law with the former trying to prove his innocence, but they’re also trying to beat The Bishop to Cleopatra’s egg. They all have their own advantages; The Bishop has the resources and Booth claims to know where the egg actually is.
All three actors do exactly what they were hired to do: Be themselves. Reynolds has a comeback for everything. The Rock smolders. Gadot kicks a lot of ass. These actors do what they’re best known for while participating in a few decent action set pieces. It’s exactly what you signed up for.
Johnson has become something of a poster child of the phrase “for the fans.” Critical acclaim doesn’t seem to matter to The Rock. The goal of his Seven Bucks Productions banner is to deliver fun and exciting flicks that fans will enjoy. That’s it. Red Notice is the pinnacle of that idea, putting together three popular, sexy stars and having them punch and kiss and joke with one another on-screen in some of the world’s coolest-looking places. And Red Notice works just as it is intended, certainly far better than other recent films that have thrown the same formula at the wall.
Red Notice does an excellent job of making fun of its most important idea without completely throwing any other aspects out the window. Sure, the plot isn’t deep, but it’s not bad or nonsensical by any stretch. It works just fine, allowing your attention to stay on action heroes without the need to question what’s going on around them. Throw in a couple of well-executed twists and a sharp turn into attempted Indiana Jones territory in the third act, and you’ve got yourself an enjoyable adventure.
Every individual piece of this film can be tossed into one of two categories: fun or serviceable. Nothing is outright bad. Nothing is blow-your-mind fantastic. This isn’t rocket science and, to Thurber’s credit, no attempts are made to make Red Notice anything more than it is or should be. It’s the best kind of stay-home-and-watch-Netflix movie you could hope for.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Red Notice arrives on Netflix on November 12th.