Only the greatest criminals in the world get a red notice, the official tag that Interpol slaps on you when you consistently break the law at a high level. The good news about Rawson Marshall Thurber’s new film, also called “Red Notice,” is that this film critic won’t be slapping a “do not see” tag on this action-adventure.
This is pure escapist fun, powered by star-driven lead actors. The organically-trained cinephile will argue that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot don’t do much acting in “Red Notice,” but that’s exactly the idea. This Netflix-funded production is the perfect bowl of Halloween adult-stolen candy on a Friday night where the brain gets turned off and the smile count goes up.
The plot revolves around Johnson’s FBI profiler reluctantly teaming up with an art thief (Reynolds) to track down Cleopatra’s legendary eggs, the luscious pearl of the art world in Thurber’s film. The only thing in their way is Gadot’s master criminal, who makes life hard for the wise-cracking duo. Hot on all three of their trails is Interpol (aka red notice stamper) Inspector Das (Ritu Arya). The locales start in Rome and race around the world, including stops in London and Argentina.
Much of what you expect to happen does indeed occur, but that’s not the point. Escapist fun is rarely smart and doesn’t carry much depth, but the nice thing here is that the humor outweighs the mindless action. Yes, there are car chases, fist fights, gun battles, and every other kind of genre quota-meeting attack–but the laughs are frequent and well-earned.
After my chaotic morning, I turned this on and got lost in the craziness of it all. No human being could bounce off a brick roof, get electrocuted, punched and kicked a hundred times, and still manage to travel across the world in model-esque clothing. If you came to a movie where The Rock jumps off a poorly-constructed bridge-which is attached to a black site (for really bad people) prison-in the hopes of catching a moving helicopter in an extremely cold weather area for an award-caliber script, you reached the wrong room.
‘Red Notice” is the epitome of tongue-in-cheek entertainment. This is the movie you watch after “Remains of the Day” for a palette cleanser. Thurber’s script won’t win a cinematic Pulitzer and the story is quite outlandish, but the roles in it are perfectly tailored for the star’s talents.
Gadot, who is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, is known to most moviegoers as the heroic Wonder Woman, so seeing her play the official “heel,” aka the antagonist, is a surprising thrill. instead of being the hero pursuing the bad parties, it’s Gadot waiting for the boys to come to the yard. She relishes the opportunity to beat up on the gents, and it makes for a lot of easy laughs.
If Johnson is in the movie, just consider him a superhero in civilian clothing: someone who can jump out a window and crash through the awning of a shop straight onto a slab of concrete, and just bounce back like it was nothing. Or as Reynolds’ Booth refers to him at one point, “a well-dressed wall.” But Johnson also knows how to nail a witty line of dialogue and turn up the charisma in the blink of an eye.
His talents match up perfectly with Reynolds, Hollywood’s class clown who is very much on cruise-control here. Thankfully, Reynolds’ cruise control is still a snarky line-delivering laugh machine. If you left “Hobbs and Shaw” wanting more of comedic interactions between Johnson and Reynolds, this movie will be a notice that one should be happy to receive.
I smiled a lot during the crisp and fast-moving 100-minute run time (minus the credits, where you’re lighting a cigarette), and didn’t feel like my time was wasted. Good timing too. Right before the trials and tribulations of depressing movies, aka awards season, can begin, some good old fashioned (if familiar and slight) pleasure is in order. Go elsewhere for anything accused of carrying depth. This is a fun room.
“Red Notice” is in theaters today and will stream via Netflix on Nov. 12.