'Red Notice': Heist pic is no jewel
THE MOVIE "Red Notice"
WHEN | WHERE Now streaming on Netflix
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The action comedy "Red Notice" stars Dwayne Johnson as an FBI agent and Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot as art thieves who become swept up in efforts to steal bejeweled eggs that supposedly once belonged to Cleopatra.
That sentence tells you everything you need to know about the movie, which is written and directed by frequent Johnson collaborator Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Central Intelligence," "Skyscraper") and now streaming on Netflix.
Frankly, the movie offers exactly what its generic poster promises. Take one look at the shot — with Johnson's trademark eyebrow raised, Reynolds doing his usual half-grin and Gadot staring down the camera. If that seems like your idea of a good time, have at it.
MY SAY The stars smirk throughout "Red Notice," giving the expected performances. They've each utilized this same basic shtick countless times before to become fabulously wealthy, so no need to begrudge them for resting on their laurels.
Johnson's John Hartley provides comic muscle. Reynolds' Nolan Booth never met a fast-talking quip he didn't like. Gadot's Sarah Black (aka The Bishop, which is her thievery alter ego, not that this matters) strides in behind the boys and positively owns them in fight scenes.
Hey, do what works, make some money and call it a day. That's fine.
But no one seems to take any of this seriously, or try particularly hard. The movie has the feel of one of those jobs actors occasionally take on in order to travel to an exotic location and have a good time.
Maybe that's not the case.
Perhaps getting into these characters required immersive, Method-level research. Perhaps Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot spent some time profiling real art thieves, trying to get into their heads. Maybe they had a difficult time on set, as the filmmaker put them through a ringer of multiple takes a la David Fincher or Stanley Kubrick.
That seems pretty unlikely, though, based on the on-screen evidence. If the director and the actors don't seem to be engaged in trying to make a movie that does anything but hit a bunch of expected buddy comedy marks en route to a lame ending, there's no reason for an audience to bother.
And this is one lazy and tired movie.
Beyond the performances, that materializes in the exceedingly lame banter between the stars — at one point Reynolds calls Johnson "Baldilocks." I'll pause for your laughter.
It takes shape in the failure to even bother conceiving of a creative MacGuffin to center the plot.
You can see it in the way the story jumps from Rome to Bali to Russia and beyond, with one location more indistinct than the next.
And that's not even to mention the efforts to seem creative and self-aware, by having Reynolds whistle the Indiana Jones theme while wearing a fedora, or referring to characters as "featured extras" and even, yes, referencing Johnson's real-life nemesis Vin Diesel.
This is not exactly "The Naked Gun"-level hilarity.
BOTTOM LINE This is a bad action comedy. It's not worth your time, even if you're bored.