Red Notice feels like one of those summer action-comedies which comes out under most people’s radar, but serves as a good excuse to spend two hours in an air-conditioned movie theater. The only difference is that this one came out in the fall instead of the summer, and it’s an excuse to spend two hours away from that annoying uncle this holiday season instead of the heat. It’s a fun movie with big name actors, extravagant action scenes, and a lot of one-liners.
Red Notice follows FBI agent Jack Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) as he teams ups with an elusive art thief, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), to prove his innocence after being framed by the mysterious Bishop (Gal Gadot) for stealing a priceless golden egg which once belonged to the great Cleopatra. Hartley must work with Booth to find all three of Cleopatra’s golden eggs and capture the Bishop in order to prove his innocence before the Bishop sells them to a rich Egyptian buyer.
The biggest draw of this movie are the leading stars as evident by their prominence on most of the advertising material. Hartley is a very familiar role for Johnson. He’s the big, strong good guy with something to prove. The good news is that Johnson plays a role that is very familiar to audiences. The bad news is that Johnson plays a role that is very familiar to audiences. If the viewer likes Dwayne Johnson as this type of character, then they’ll be very pleased. If the viewer is hoping for something new and different from The Rock, said viewer may be disappointed. Red Notice is driven by the story, so don’t expect much depth to the character aside from a few mentions of his family that are only brought up to service the story.
Unlike Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot plays a different character than most viewers are familiar with, and she does it well. Gadot plays the elusive and whip-smart Bishop, a professional international art thief. She is a masterful planner who relies on her wits, not looks, in order to get what she wants. With most viewers knowing Gadot from Wonder Woman, seeing her play the villain is a refreshing change of pace. The Bishop is the villain of the story, but she’s an endearing one. Gadot makes every scene that she is in fun and exciting. She is a villain that the audience enjoys watching despite the fact that she is trying to stop our heroes.
The main hero that The Bishop tries to stop is Nolan Booth, a rival art thief to The Bishop who must work with Hartley in order to find the third egg before The Bishop. Reynolds is really what holds this film together. Johnson gives a convincing performance for a wrestler-turned-actor, and Gadot gives a great performance, but she is not in the film as much as her counterparts. Reynold’s mix of his playful personality and his frequent one-liners is what keeps the audience interested. Booth always has some snarky remark to any event or comment and exhibits a playfulness which keeps the audience laughing. Although Johnson may be the technical main character, Reynolds is the star of the film.
These stars are captured by the camera in typical action-movie fashion, but that’s not a bad thing. Like most action movies, there are a lot of fast, moving shots that need to be captured. This is one area where Red Notice impresses. There are a few really good shots in the film which bring attention to the camerawork. The camerawork shows a lot of great panning shots, which gives the audience a great perspective of the space that the characters inhabit. Following these characters feels natural, yet exciting. The locations that the characters visit are varied and visually pleasing. The main characters are brought to a variety of locations including, Rome, Bali, Russia, London, Valencia, and Argentina. The locations vary from fancy museums and mansions to exotic jungles and tundras.
The story that this camerawork captures is fairly simple at its core. Two rival art thieves race against one another in order to obtain all three of Cleopatra’s eggs in order to sell them all to an Egyptian billionaire as a wedding gift for his daughter, Cleopatra. The story gets more complicated with the varying twists, but the film at its core is an action-adventure movie about searching for a lost treasure. Because of this, the film is dominated by the story and the action and focuses less on the characters and their interpersonal relationships. This isn’t bad, but it may disappoint some movie-goers hoping for a movie with action, story, and deep, complicated characters. To be fair, Red Notice is not a movie where one expects complex characters, but it’s always a nice surprise when these types of action films do have complex and engaging characters. Oh well.
The best word to describe Red Notice is “fun.” It’s a fun movie to enjoy with the family. It won’t win any Oscars or be nominated for that matter, but Red Notice is an enjoyable film to watch with others if the viewer’s expectations are in check. It’s an easy way to kill two hours this holiday season. If the passive-aggressive in-laws, annoying cousins, or talkative uncles are getting to be too much, open Netflix and put on this movie to take a two-hour break from all of the commotion of the first real holiday season in two years.