Netflix’s newest original film, “Red Notice,” was released in select theaters on Nov. 5 and then came to Netflix on Nov. 12. The film, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, has a star-studded cast headlined by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot. The film follows an art thief who has to team up with a wrongfully convicted FBI agent in order to stop another art thief from stealing a made-up artifact.
“Red Notice” was advertised as an action/comedy film. However, the action in the film is quite underwhelming. One of the most glaring flaws with it is the editing, as the film relies on a lot of quick cuts that make the scenes visually disorienting and incredibly hard to follow. This messes with the flow of the action and makes it feel generic and pieced together by the editing team. “Red Notice” missed out on the chance to have truly excellent action by overusing quick editing cuts.
Furthermore, the action in the film borders on being goofy and unrealistic at times. For instance, there is a part of the opening chase sequence where Reynolds’ character jumps off a ledge into a construction chute in order to escape from Johnson’s character. Similarly, Reynolds’ character also uses a snowball in order to disarm a prison guard, which detracts from the film’s grounded nature. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does not totally fit with the rest of the action in the film, which is realistic and serious. A major flaw of “Red Notice” is that the action takes the viewer out of the film at points due to its silliness and lack of tonal consistency.
Likewise, the overarching storyline of “Red Notice” is confusing and makes little sense. One of the biggest problems is the characters’ actions often seem contradictory to what we know about their personal goals. For example, Johnson’s character rips up a map that contains the only known way out of the jungle, which makes no sense given that he explicitly wants to leave the jungle. Small details such as Johnson’s character destroying the map build up to create a storyline where many of the characters’ motivations go directly against each other, which takes audiences out of the film.
Another weakness of the film is its reliance on cultural references. “Red Notice” heavily relies on references to current events. While audiences now might understand what Instagram, Amazon Alexa and “The Great British Bake Off” are, it is unlikely that all of these cultural references will stay relevant forever. This means “Red Notice” will likely be the kind of film that lacks any staying power because it will quickly become dated. There is not a problem with a film throwing out a reference to Instagram, but this film struggles with balancing timeliness and timelessness, opting to focus on the former.
“Red Notice” also has some pretty terrible dialogue. Toward the end of the film, a romantic subplot develops between two of the characters, but the dialogue they are given feels unrealistic. The fault here lies with the writer, as the writing of the romantic dialogue is on par with that of the “Star Wars” prequels. This is not helped by the fact that the subplot feels shoehorned in and unnecessary to the overall plot of the film. A key shortcoming of the film is the romance, due to the awkward dialogue and lack of thematic impact.
While the action of the film may not be anything special, the comedy manages to deliver. Unfortunately, the film sometimes falls more into the camp of laughing at it than with it, but nonetheless manages to bring out many laughs. Reynolds does most of the comedic heavy lifting in the film, and he succeeds in doing his usual “Deadpool”-esque one-liners. Whenever the film starts to get stale, Reynolds always comes in with a quippy line to bring some energy back. There is also a celebrity cameo with one of the funniest lines of the film. However, the remainder of the humor in the film is derived from its own ridiculousness. The action scenes are the perfect examples of this, as the scenes are intended to be taken seriously but instead are perceived as comedic by the audience. Overall, “Red Notice” is a very funny film but sometimes at the cost of its own credibility.
Besides the humor, the best part of the film is easily the relationship between Reynolds’ and Johnson’s characters. The two of them spend most of the film together, and it pays off, as they have a natural bond and charisma on screen together. If Reynolds and Johnson were not so entertaining together, the film would be unwatchable. The bromance between Reynolds’ and Johnson’s characters holds the film together because they draw the viewer in.
Surprisingly, the end of the film works incredibly well to pay off most of the main plot points and tie everything together. There is an unexpected twist at the end that actually makes sense in the context of the film and adds new meaning to a lot of previous scenes, which is what a successful twist should do. The ending also works well to fortify the main theme that teamwork is important. From a film that is often overly goofy and silly, the conclusion is strong enough to make the story make at least a little sense and cements the key theme.
All in all, “Red Notice” is by no means a great movie — do not expect it to take home any Oscars this year, but that does not mean it is not worth watching. “Red Notice” is the kind of film to watch with a bunch of friends and just laugh at how ridiculous it gets at points. The film is definitely worth a watch for fans of any of the three main stars, but do not expect anything life-changing that will stay with you long after watching it.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars