Red Notice, Not Worth Anything Were it Not for Ryan Reynolds

At this point it’s obvious that either Ryan Reynolds routinely improvises dialogue or he’s allowed to write his own jokes, because he alone makes Red Notice a mostly entertaining endeavor despite a painfully pedestrian, often lazy script. The Rock is the Rock and Gal Gadot pops in and out as a sultry art thief, doing her damndest to play against Wonder Woman type and spice up the proceedings. The movie manages to be rather sexless nonetheless, beholden to the quick Netflix algorithm that emphasizes pacing over passion or performance. Without a worthy villain and with contrivances that keep stacking until the very end, Red Notice would be an utter failure were it not for Reynolds’ patented banter and Rawson Marshall Thurber’s roaming camera. The latter makes good use of drone photography to animate an early chase sequence through Rome and a later action sequence through a mine shaft. The former is never less than funny, and often hilarious. Combining Deadpool’s meta wit and a script unaware of its own narrative absurdity results in a movie that’s almost so bad it’s good. During a climactic hustle through the rainforest in search of Cleopatra’s third egg (they actually call it a “McGuffin” in-movie), Gadot and one annoying FBI spook appear out of nowhere for what must be the fourth time in the span of ninety minutes. Tonally, the film is offset by disparate locations, beginning in the world of high-end art heists and ending in a dusty world of Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Reynolds’ character is nearly one-upped in the end, you might chafe at the point of it all, until finally the film’s inevitable endgame comes to fruition: a set-up for a sequel wherein all three stars are joined in pursuit of the next big score. Red Notice fails as a seductive heist film and exceeds somewhat as an action-adventure romp.

P.S. It’s only Netflix’s most expensive movie until the next most expensive movie they’ve ever made.

Grade: C+

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