What do cops, thieves, and Cleopatra have in common? Eggs. That’s right, Cleopatra’s priceless bejeweled eggs are at the center of Red Notice, new action-adventure comedy from writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Netflix. Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot are three of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, so one would think this powerhouse cast would add excitement and levity to a film of this scale, and it almost works. However, it relies on its talent to do all the work while giving them little to do with what they are given.
A Red Notice is reserved for criminals at the top of Interpol’s most wanted, and infamous art thieves The Bishop (Gadot) and Nolan Booth (Reynolds) are at the top. FBI profiler agent John Hartley (Johnson) and Interpol have teamed to find these two before they find Cleopatra’s third egg.
These priceless, jeweled eggs were gifts to Cleopatra from Mark Antony on their wedding day. After their deaths, the eggs were scattered across the globe, but now The Bishop has the first egg. Nolan had the second until Hartley caught him. The celebration is short-lived when Hartley is framed for helping Booth steal the egg, and they are both sent to prison in Russia. The Bishop doesn’t know where the third is, but Booth does, so he and Hartley devise a plan to escape Russia, find the last egg, and clear Hartley of any wrongdoing.
Johnson has staked his claim in the action-adventure genre. He embraces his niche and sticks to it like glue, and it’s honestly admirable. In Red Notice, Johnson plays it straight as an intellectual, not just an average tough guy that uses brawn over brains. The character uses his knowledge of people, places and things to outsmart others, which is a nice change-up for Johnson. Reynolds can form chemistry with anyone, and with Johnson, they give off Romancing the Stone vibes. Gadot drops the Wonder Woman act and conjures her best Catwoman impression to play the ever cunning Bishop, and at least she’s having a good time with the role.
Red Notice has some engaging characters, but the praise stops there as the film lacks in every other category. Everything about the film is surface level: the script, the mystery, and the directing. The contrived twist and double-crosses (that can be seen from a mile away) invoke indifference rather than a specific visceral reaction. The three megastars carry the entire film on their shoulders and end up buried alive under the weight of it all.
Famous faces help blockbuster movies grab the audience’s attention, but the story is what keeps their attention, and Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot aren’t enough. Red Notice struggles to stand out in a genre where other films do it better and on much smaller budgets. It’s just another blockbuster Netflix film that will get lost in the content shuffle and forgotten.
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