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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Red Notice review: Dwayne Johnson film overpromises and underdelivers

Red Notice movie review: Dwayne Johnson-Gal Gadot-Ryan Reynolds’ film is like an auto rickshaw ride down Delhi roads in peak evening traffic, where the saving grace is the Chatty Cathy of an auto rickshaw driver -- in this film's case, Reynolds.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Ektaa Malik | New Delhi |
Updated: November 13, 2021 9:25:04 am
Red NoticeRed Notice is streaming on Netflix. (Photo: Netflix © 2021)

Red Notice movie cast: Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson
Red Notice movie director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Red Notice movie rating: 1.5 stars

Red flag would have been a better title for this big name, big-budget outing on Netflix. Red Notice has a cast comprising Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and a trailer that left us mesmerized. The film promised us an adventure of a lifetime, a roller coaster that was supposed to leave us gasping for breath, courtesy the high amount of adrenaline, burning choppers and raging bulls in an arena. What it delivers is a tepid, auto rickshaw ride, perhaps on Delhi streets in peak evening traffic, where the saving grace is the Chatty Cathy of an auto rickshaw driver — or in the film’s case Ryan Reynolds.

We meet Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds), the ‘second best art thief’ in the world, who’s on a quest to locate and reunite the ‘three lost eggs of Cleopatra’. Enter FBI special agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), a profiler with the FBI, with a mission to catch Nolan at any cost. There is a third player here, the bishop (Gal Gadot) or ‘the best art thief in the world’ who has often bested Nolan in their pursuit of artistic brilliance. The bishop gets Nolan arrested by feeding information to Agent Hartley, and also frames Agent Hartley in the same breath. Talk about a double whammy. Now, the film takes the shape of a cop-buddy film, where two polar opposite alpha males come together to survive the injustices meted out to them, in this unique case by a woman.

Red Notice could very well serve as a brochure for exotic travel destinations, as the film traverses thought Rome, Russia, Egypt, Bali and then Argentina. There is plenty of beautiful art to go around, there is a measure of conspiracy theory thrown in with a nod to the famed Nazi loot that went missing after the fall of Hitler. Beautiful locales, expensive sets, engaging historical tit-bits, a running gag of a conspiracy theory and a stellar A-lister star cast, with all this, who needs a plot that’s engaging?

Red Notice brought together elements of a heist-meets-a-cop-buddy-meets-history-flick, and in the end, it resembles a ‘veg thali’ from your corner sweet shop. We eat it not because it is appealing or appetising but because it offers all the food groups, and the boxes are brightly coloured and look attractive. The only saving grace in the thali is the lone sugar syrup soaked gulab jamun, which we gulp down to wash down the unpalatable spicy fare. In Red Notice, Ryan Reynolds is that sugar-soaked offering, who has the best comic lines and the accompanying charm. He rolls with the tide of the film, without taking himself or the film seriously. Gal Gadot channels some of her Wonder Woman persona as she locks horns with Dwayne Johnson and beats up the bad guys with such alacrity that the word ‘psychopath’ starts hovering over her, like a speech cloud.  Dwayne Johnson, is well Dwayne Johnson, no surprises there. There is a desi Interpol Inspector Das — thrown in to perhaps tick off the ‘diversity box’ — played by actor Ritu Arya. There is a ‘supposed’ unique twist in the film, but anyone with half a brain could spot it from a mile away.

Sure, watch the film, because sometimes one needs to watch beautiful A-listers do nothing at all. And then maybe, later Google up Nazi Loot, or the history of the ‘Eggs of Cleopatra’, it’s quite fascinating. That’s what I did.

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