Synopsis: Two burglars vie against each other in a jewelry heist while a law enforcement agent tries to catch them red-handed. (Streaming on Netflix)
Red Notice is three stars with high Q/likability scores (Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot & Ryan Reynolds) slotted into a light caper featuring exotic locales. Well, some of the exotic locales actually seem to be green screened, but it looks like a drone was at least sent up to sweep over Rome. And if they say that Ryan Reynolds’ tropical manse is actually in Bali and not on an Atlanta soundstage, then okay.
The non-high concept plot revolves around the three leads racing around the world to recover all three of “Cleopatra’s Eggs.” Not a real thing, but it might make a good name for a breakfast place. The eggs in question are golden and bejeweled, and said to be a gift to Cleopatra from her lover, Marc Antony–the Roman General, not the salsa singer, Marc Anthony. Anyway the “priceless” eggs look kinda cheap.
Thieves are after the eggs because an Egyptian billionaire wants to give them to his daughter as a wedding present and is offering $300 million. The bride would probably prefer a performance with Beyonce to start, but this wouldn’t serve the movie’s plot.
The action starts in Rome where one of the eggs is on display in a museum. Interpol and the Rock swarm the place during business hours because they have received a tip that the Bishop- a renowned art thief- is in the process of stealing the artifact. Dwayne Johnson is supposed to be an FBI art thief profiler. Probably a good niche for him, since his huge ox-like body would make him v conspicuous in any undercover work. The museum security men sniff that a theft is not “possible.” Naturally, they’re wrong. And lucky for us because we now can watch the Rock barrel after his quarry while dodging cultural treasures. Now I know that the guy is strong, but when people go crashing through second floor windows, muscles are not likely to stop spleens from being ruptured. But it’s all in good fun and I have to give the filmmakers credit for mostly fist & foot fights, not gunfights.
One of the thieves is Gal Gadot, playing it cool and making fools of her competition. The other is Ryan Reynolds and his character is like his Instagram feed come to life – plenty of wisecracks. Thankfully -and surprisingly- Red Notice‘s stars don’t lean into self-congratulatory performances like the stars of the Oceans movies. (Sorry, Sandy, Brad et al., I was hoping your characters would all end up in prison.)
Speaking of prison, our stars end up spending some time in what looks like the Siberian facility that was mocked up for Black Widow. I half expected to see Ryan’s ex, Scarjo, rappeling the mighty CGI walls. Thankfully, it isn’t long before the Rock, Gal & Ryan demonstrate their bon fides at a lavish masked ball thrown by another billionaire (millionaires just don’t cut it anymore) who is an arms dealer. His name is Sotto Voce and he looks like the beer advert guy who was “the most interesting man in the world.” Well, if that guy had an air of menace and a recent face lift. The Rock uses all his acting skills to try and look unperturbed by his musclebound bodying trying to not seize up when he has to move with some agility across the dance floor. Ryan gets in everyone’s face the moment he thinks of a bon mot, whether said person is brandishing a sword or just trying to enjoy a canape. And, as in every movie she does, Gal does Krav Maga fighting while looking stunning in an haute couture gown.
There is nothing cerebral, meaningful or original about the film. Which is not always a bad thing. Red Notice is also relatively inoffensive and mildly diverting — not a bad option when you’ve had a too busy day.