The star-studded Netflix film is disappointingly generic
Netflix, for all its disruptive elements in the entertainment industry, has truly developed a reputation of supporting talent at all costs. This has permitted it to foster relationships with Hollywood legends and up-and-coming filmmakers. With this reputation, Netflix has also gotten credit with film stars. In Murder Mystery (2019), the streamer gathered two of the biggest comedy stars in recent times with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. With the newest Red Notice (2021), Netflix has brought in the arguably top three movie stars of today, with Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds.
Red Notice is a treasure-hunt/heist film. We follow FBI agent Josh Hartley (Johnson), who is chasing down art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds). However, when Hartley is framed and sent to prison with Booth, he must team up with his enemy to stop the intelligent Bishop (Gadot), from stealing three legendary golden eggs that once belonged to Cleopatra.
Red Notice is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber who has accustomed us to middle-of-the road studio fare such as We’re the Millers (2013), Central Intelligence (2016), and Skyscraper (2018). With Red Notice, we get exactly the type of film you’d expect given the cast and plot. Action scenes are much slicker and well-choreographed than I was expecting, however. There is a slight witty improvisational feel that many of the chase scenes in the first Pirates of the Caribbean films had. However, Marshall Thunder never leans into any risks, and decides to be as generic and safe as possible. This both can satisfy viewers who simply want a film that can help pass the time, but also disappoint them, for wasting the potential of its performers.
The cast plays their roles exactly in the way you would expect them to. The Rock is gruff and tough, Gadot is sexy and witty, and Reynolds is a wise-cracking and self-aware comic relief. It’s only Reynolds, with his signature improvisation skills, that helps bring any sense of originality or electricity to Red Notice. Disappointingly, the three actors don’t gel too well together. Red Notice tries to put a lot of emphasis on a burgeoning friendship between Hartley and Booth, yet the lazy script work and a lack of chemistry between the actors make these efforts fall flat.
In the end, since Red Notice is such a generic and unoriginal flick, there really isn’t much else to say. Marshall Thunder corrals the visual style and rhythm of the film to acceptable standards, but never seeks to have fun with the story or characters. As a result, the three marquee stars are largely left to their own devices to be professionally adequate. Red Notice, thus, retains the same amount of memorability in viewers as the amount of effort that went into crafting it.