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The few highs and many lows of Red Notice

Though it stars big names like Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Red Notice struggles to show how they shine.

Netflix original Red Notice, released on Nov. 12 and directed by Rawson Michael Thurber, tells the story of master art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and wronged FBI agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) who must unwillingly work together in search of Cleopatra’s three eggs before a rival art thief named The Bishop (Gal Gadot) can get to them first.

Already, Red Notice sounds like another generic adventure film. Though it sounds fun, its plot is uninspired and predictable. Still, viewers had hope that this trio of actors, famous for widely successful action movies like Deadpool, Jumanji and Wonder Woman, would be able to give life to a bland storyline. Sadly, this was not the case. 

For one, Dwayne Johnson as John Hartley was disappointingly flat. The producers could have replaced him with an actual rock to the same effect. Hartley is a role Johnson has played before—the “no funny business” hardened cop—and yet the character was missing all of Johnson’s charisma and likeability. Truth be told, Hartley lacks any depth at all. Red Notice gave him no room to grow as a character, leaving Johnson remarkably one-note throughout the whole of the film. It is an unfortunate trend of one-dimensional characters this movie follows, of which Gal Gadot’s The Bishop and Ryan Reynolds’ Nolan Booth are further proof.

The Bishop faces very few difficulties as the film progresses and thus has even less opportunity to evolve. Consequently, Gadot is forced to play the smug, clever girl boss nearly the entire movie. And, like Johnson, Gadot does not sell the role. Thanks in part to a badly-written script, most of Gadot’s jokes fall short. She embodies more Wonder Woman than femme fatale.

Likewise, it becomes increasingly clear that Nolan Booth has little more to say than jokes, reminiscent of another character Reynolds has played before. However, for a fellow action-comedy movie starring the same leading actor, Booth hardly holds a candle to Deadpool’s wit. More than that, with the neverending terrible one-liners Reynolds is fed, it is difficult to take Red Notice seriously. There is no gravity to any situation with Reynolds cracking jokes about Johnson being bald.

The plot of the movie certainly does not help the matter. Red Notice is chock full of movie stereotypes, from car chases to prison breaks. It even pits The Rock and Reynolds against a CGI bull in the Colosseum. Viewers must suspend disbelief if they want to enjoy this film, and it looks like many people did.

Because despite its faults, people still found Red Notice an entertaining movie. Its reviews can attest to that: though Rotten Tomatoes’ verified critics gave it a 35%, its verified audience thought it deserved a 92%. IMDb corroborates this with a rating of 6.5/10. To boot, Red Notice rose instantly to number one on Netflix and has remained there several days after its release.
Red Notice still holds appeal on the basis of being an easy watch. Its plot is simple and fun, albeit unoriginal. And even though they are not at their best, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot are still enjoyable to see on the screen. So if you are looking for something exciting and uncomplicated, Red Notice is the film for you.

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