Netflix UK film review: Red Notice
Ivan Radford | On 12, Nov 2021
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot
Where to watch Red Notice online in the UK: Netflix UK
Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot. That’s the pitch that turned Red Notice, a slinky, slick action comedy into one of the most sought-after projects in recent memory – and, for better and for worse, that’s exactly what the finished product offers.
Netflix emerged on top in a frenzied bidding war for the film, with the blockbuster going on to become the streamer’s most expensive film to date. A significant part of that reported $200 million budget would have been a result of disruptions and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but a hefty chunk will also have been down to its A-list cast. The central trio deliver precisely what audiences will expect from them – and, in a way, that’s the real problem, because at no point do you actually think of them as characters, no matter how many times the script repeats their names to convince you otherwise.
Ryan Reynolds plays Nolan Booth, a smug, successful art thief who is on the trail of three golden eggs that, as legend would have it, belonged to Cleopatra. He’s pursued by John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), an FBI agent who seems to have assigned himself the job of single-handedly bringing Booth down. But their cat-and-mouse dynamic is disrupted by the presence of another thief in the shadows: the Bishop (Gal Galdot), whose one-step-ahead skills leave all three of them trying to outsmart each other.
The result is a globe-trotting series of glossy set pieces, ranging from a museum heist and a tunnel chase to a prison escape, bullring showdown and jungle pursuit. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) strings together with some enjoyable hyperactive camera movements and pinpoint choreography, with stunts and callbacks working together to make increasingly outlandish action sequences. A game of rock jenga and a slowly dismantled scaffold are inventive flourishes that bring some fresh novelty to familiar thrills.
But the energy and excitement on the surface don’t translate to the script, with Thurber’s web of shifting loyalties so busy trying to surprise the audience that it doesn’t give the characters a chance to charm us. Gadot is playful and confident, but with a shortage of screentime to do more, the always-entertaining Reynolds is amusingly self-aware and talks quickly, but his role could be taken straight out of any other blockbuster starring him since Deadpool, and Johnson goes through the muscular motions competently. But the more they’re hurried from one joke about MacGuffins to the next, the more Red Notice struggles to give us any stakes in the game; it’s a lavish, polished romp, and there’s something to be said for its post-Indiana Jones blockbusting, but at no point do you think any of them might be in danger or caught in an unsolvable puzzle. With a runtime of two hours, that’s a lot of jeopardy to be missing.
Red Notice is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.