Though ‘Red Notice’ will never be nominated for any major Academy Awards, but still I had a hell of a good time watching the film and its stars do what they do best. Dwayne Johnson is spectacular as an FBI agent travelling the world in hot pursuit of an international art thief, portrayed by a wise-cracking, charismatic Ryan Reynolds. Both are played by the drop-dead gorgeous Gal Gadot as The Bishop, also an art thief who lands them both in a Russian prison where she pulls the strings. OK? Fair enough, that is pretty much all you need to know, and to enjoy this fast-paced actioner, but my heart tells me I must say more.
So I will.
To begin, place your brain in the fridge before watching this film. It’s OK, it will be there when you are finished and no worse for the wear. More important you will not have to think one iota about this film, and frankly, you don’t need to. This is popcorn chompin’, hardass, kickass, dumbass fun!
I must start by saying these are not performances, they are the sort of performances Arnold Schwarzenegger use to give, a play on his persona and who he was in the media. No one is ever going to call Johnson a great actor, and I think he knows that but he, a mighty fine movie star and has parlayed charisma times ten into a solid movie career. Reynolds does what Reynolds does best, which is to be the smartest person or thing he is and make everyone look stupid until he runs into Gadot, who is the smartest person in the room, and by far the most beautiful, sexiest and seductive, and she has a lot of fun winking at the audience. Safe to say the fast-cut trailer tells you everything you need to know about the film and to its credit, the film delivers. There are a ton of chases, narrow escapes, lots of explosions, gunplay, fighting, everything you would expect in an action thriller, but the film exists largely because of the plain old movie star charisma of its three leads who do everything expected of them with a wink and a smile.
The film begins in Rome, where Agent John Hartley (Johnson) has a tip that someone is going to steal one of the three eggs of Cleopatra, precious and valuable beyond belief and kept in a heavily guarded part of a Museum in Rome. Sure enough, the one on display is a fake and the thief, Nolan (Reynolds) is in the museum with the egg in his bag. After a shootout and crazy chase, he is soon on his way back to his home in Bali, where he is stunned to find Hartley waiting for him. But both men have been betrayed by The bishop, a mysterious art thief no one knows. Sent to the toughest prison in Russia from which escape seems impossible, the two end up cellmates, where they agree to work with each other to get out, Hartley to clear his name and Nolan to continue stealing art. The meet The Bishop at the prison, where she makes clear, she is in charge of their fate and until Nolan agrees to help her out, they are staying in the prison. But Nolan already has that worked out and they get clear of the Russian gulag through the trust between them is virtually zero. And so it goes with The Bishop always one step ahead of them, making fools of them ripping through bad guys and exotic locales until the twist we expect coming finally comes. I have to say that they had me at the climax, I had guessed it wrong!
Johnson by now can do this kind of role in his sleep. He has proven to be a pretty good actor, wonderful as the gay actor in ‘Be Cool’ (2005), the best performance in the film in fact, and I wish he would get more roles like this. He is terrific when sending u his image, having fun with his muscular good looks, and that Jack Nicholson smile. His previous film this year ‘Jungle Cruise’ (2021) offered him his best role since ‘Be Cool’ and he delivered the goods. This one felt like a step backwards, but with the charisma of the three leads, does it matter? Ryan Reynolds got to be a good looking smart ass, the best quips in the film were saved for him, and he double-crosses everyone in his path so you just know his time is coming. He was Deadpool without being Deadpool. And Gal Gadot. Is there a more striking woman in movies right now? Brilliant as Wonder woman, the perfect choice, it is nice to see her step out of the hero zone and play a nasty bad guy here. And she has fun doing it. They all do, but I think Gadot most of all. She tortures Johnson with a wink and a smile as she applies battery chargers to his, um, downtown region, enjoying what she is doing to him. Stunning and I cannot wait to see her as Cleopatra.
Listen, this is not a great piece of cinema, it is essentially a comic book come to life, exciting, adventurous, goofy good fun. Despite countless gun battles, I do not recall anyone dying a gruesome death, it was like ‘The Bugs Bunny’/ ‘Road Runner’ Hour, the bad guys get hurt, get up seconds later and are in hot pursuit again. The film moves with incredible speed, try not to think too much, you will enjoy it much less.
The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5
About The Author:
John H. Foote is among the best known film critics in Canada, and has been active as a critic for thirty years. His career began as co-host, co-producer of the popular movie talk and review program Reel to Real. He left the show after ten years for his first love, print criticism, he longed to write about movies. For two years he wrote for Toronto Life and Fashion Magazine, his work quote in the LA and New York Times, as well as major papers across North America. He was offered a position writing for the internet and has since wrote for incontention.com, thewrap.com, screenrant.com, awardscircuit.com and most recently thecinemaholic.com. In May, 2018 he started his own site https://Footeandfriendsonfilm.com, which has enjoyed great success its first few months. Foote was also involved in film education teaching film history and film genre at Trebas Institute before leaving to be Dean of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history and continued his work as a critic. Foote has written two books, Clint Eastwood : Evolution of a Filmmaker, and Spielberg: American Film Visionary. His third, American Cinema in the Seventies is due for release in 2020.
Through his career he has interviewed everyone in the business except Jack Nicholson.