When Interpol issues a Red Notice, they are sending out a worldwide request to all law enforcement agencies to provisionally arrest a known criminal until said individual can be extradited for their crimes.
That term is also used as the title for the new Netflix action film starring Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot, which the streaming platform describes as a “2021 action-adventure.”
That’s it. That’s the only premise Netflix gives. Thankfully, modern trailers tend to give almost everything away these days… except for whether or not Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are in the next Spider-Man film — but that’s next month’s problem.
“Red Notice” (2021) is actually about a complex art heist on par with “Ocean’s Eleven” but far easier to follow. Two infamous art thieves – Nolan Booth (Reynolds) and the Bishop (Gadot) are trying to steal all three of Cleopatra’s golden eggs. The treasures were supposedly gifts given to the ancient Egyptian Queen by her suitor Marc Antony of Rome.
What follows is a globe-trotting thrill ride full of double, triple, and even quadruple crosses. The story plays off the same character dynamics often seen in buddy cop films like “Lethal Weapon” and “Rush Hour” only this time one partner is an international art thief.
Johnson brings his usual tough guy bravado while Reynolds continues to essentially be his charmingly aloof, sarcastic self. Gal Gadot smolders and chews every scene as the playfully charismatic villainess; she looks like she enjoyed a role that is different from her previous action films.
The action is engaging and frenetic. The fight scenes are well choreographed though it would be nice if longer takes were used to give the fights a bit better pacing; too many quick cuts can be exhausting to watch as an audience member.
The direction — done by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Central Intelligence,” “Skyscraper”) – is handled well. This marks Thurber’s third project with Johnson in a lead role. With his background making both action and comedy films, this feels like a good blend of both genres.
The cinematography and script are where the movie struggles. Much of the script is exposition, with characters telling each other (and the audience) about something instead of letting the camera show it.
The product placement also feels incredibly forced. A bottle of Aviation American Gin (a company once owned by Reynolds) makes an appearance and several other products are name dropped, including the iPhone.
As for the cinematography, the frequent use of large typography to indicate a change in location feels like it’s meant to detract from the establishing shot. It’s also obvious when green screen studios and sound stages are used for outdoor locations.
Part of that goes to how the filming was effected by the COVID-19 pandemic; production went into an indefinite shutdown for seven months during principal photography. With policy and practical changes going into effect, that probably meant making accommodations as necessary.
But these shortcomings don’t necessarily make this a bad movie. In fact, if anything it pushed the ingenuity of the filmmakers to ensure a quality product given the circumstances. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and it’s got a little bit of everything for everyone to enjoy.