Red Notice review: A forgettable big-budget action thriller from Netflix

The new film starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot is full of featureless action and tired wisecracks.

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson in Red Notice
2.0 out of 5 star rating

The latest in a long line of largely forgettable big-budget action thrillers from Netflix, Red Notice includes perhaps the streamer’s most star-studded cast to date – at least until the upcoming release of Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. The glamorous trio of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot lead the ensemble, and their presence must account for a large chunk of the movie’s staggering $200 million budget (as a point of comparison, that’s more than it cost to make Denis Villeneuve’s superb sci-fi epic Dune.)

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With its fairly weak plot and barrage of rather featureless action scenes (including some poor CGI), it’s a film that relies almost solely on the charms of those three stars. Ostensibly, Johnson is playing an FBI profiler, Reynolds an art thief and Gal Gadot his nemesis, but really, Johnson is playing Dwayne Johnson, Reynolds is playing Ryan Reynolds, and Gadot is playing Gal Gadot. That wouldn’t necessarily be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that everything else about the film is so utterly generic – but alas, not even the undoubted charisma of those A-listers can save this from being something of a slog.

The set-up is as follows: the FBI’s top profiler John Hartley (Johnson) is in Rome to prevent the theft of three golden eggs that once belonged to Cleopatra, but soon after attempting to arrest notorious art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds), he finds himself drawn into a complex plot. The person behind the heist, it turns out, is not Booth but his rival “The Bishop” (Gadot) and so he begs Hartley to join forces with him to catch her once and for all – which leads to a grand, globe-trotting expedition that sees them encounter bull fights, treasure maps and deep fake technology.

At various points, the film invites comparisons with the terrific Netflix series Lupin and beloved blockbuster franchises such as James Bond and – very overtly – Indiana Jones, but Red Notice doesn’t have anywhere near the requisite style, wit or genuine excitement to pull any of those comparisons off. Reynolds spends the whole movie in full-on wisecracking Deadpool mode, dispensing quips and put-downs every few seconds in his trademark style, but the hit rate is very poor and for the most part these gags feel rather tired. Meanwhile, there is also a bizarre and rather cringe-worthy cameo from Ed Sheeran, while Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood make surprise appearances via Gal Gadot’s television screen.

To give the film some credit, it does get going a little more in its final act – with a fun twist towards the end that adds a little more intrigue to the whole thing, but it’s all too little too late. And then, there are hints at the very end that the film might be looking to start a new franchise, which seems, to be blunt, entirely unnecessary.

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In truth, Red Notice will most likely be seen by most people in the same way that most Netflix “blockbusters” are seen – in the background while doing other things – and seems likely to be forgotten as soon as the credits have rolled. And that might not be too much an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that, as mentioned above, this cost $200 million to make. Frankly, it does nothing to justify that whopping budget – does throwaway stuff like this really need to be so expensive?

Red Notice will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday 12th November. Check out more of our Movies coverage, read our guide to the best movies on Netflix or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.