Starring Dwayne Johson and Gal Gadot
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
With a budget of almost two-hundred million dollars and twenty-million-dollar salaries for its three stars, the new Netflix release “Red Notice” exploded onto the streaming service this past weekend.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds are the three big-name stars that are a studio head’s dream cast.
– What does two-hundred million and three of the biggest Hollywood heavy-hitters get you?”
– A loud, obnoxious and annoying pile of over-produced garbage”
Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, this is a film that has so many things happening in every second of its running time yet is devoid of anything resembling structure or character. This is not a film. Thurber has created the cinematic equivalent of a giant barrel of muck and a picture so ineptly put together that it allows Michael Bay comparisons to Antonioni.
The screenplay is a hodgepodge of blatant rip-offs from far superior films while having no original voice of its own. There is a fine line between tipping your hat and stealing. As a screenwriter, Thurber has crossed that line like an out-of-control pirate leaping from his ship, who sets out to pillage from films he likely knows worked better.
Johnson (a likable actor but one who apparently turns no film down) is a by-his-own-rules hot-shot F.B.I. profiler who stumbles into the old trusty “two opposing characters forced to comedically buddy up” when he has a run in with a master thief played by Ryan Reynolds.
A ridiculous screenplay tries to capture some form of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “National Treasure” vibes. A legend says Mark Antony gifted Cleopatra with three golden eggs. After their death, the three eggs were scattered over the world. One ended up in the Museo Nazionale in Florence, Italy. One is owned by a private collector. The third has been lost for centuries. The search for the missing egg sends the two men on a globetrotting adventure that has them running afoul of bad guys, treasure hunters, and a kind of super-criminal played by Gadot, a good actress who needs to find a project worthy of her talents.
Gal Gadot gets by well enough as she dives into her role with a knowing wink. The actress realizes probably that she is in cartoonishly-realized entertainment and plays her part accordingly. It is too bad the writing and insipid direction let her talent and undeniable screen presence down.
Dwayne Johnson gets by on being charming. It is to his credit as an actor that he is at home in many genres. Johnson can easily do serious and comedy and action. I have always liked him, but the action star has racked up an underwhelming filmography over the last decade, save for a couple of good ones. This film does the actor no favors and goes down as one of the worst he has ever been involved with.
Ryan Reynolds does not get by. His performance is his usual smart-ass shtick, but here his character and performance grow increasingly annoying scene by scene until he becomes a mere prop; a prop that we want to completely kick out of the film before our heads explode. When Reynolds was on screen, I was rooting for the bad guys and checking my watch.
The film’s visuals are ghastly. Everything looks phony and computerized. Every action moment is incomprehensibly put together and distances the audience from enjoying any of it.
Markus Förderer’s cinematography goes completely unnoticed, getting buried under the avalanche of uninspired CGI and rendering the location work a blur. Italy looks no different from Egypt or anywhere else in this film. And to say Steve Jablonsky’s score is generic would be an understatement.
Everything about Thurber’s work here is so machine-like there is no fun to be had.
“Red Notice” screams out to be a franchise starter but there is nothing memorable left once the tornado of indecipherable images blast by for two hours.
This is a terrible film in every frame and a shameful congeries of ideas from superior pictures. Even Indiana Jones couldn’t find an ounce of originality in this one.