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Red Notice appears to be taking Netflix audiences by storm. I mean, it stars Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, so I get it. After all, my number one requirement in visual entertainment is good-looking leading men, and a gorgeous female lead doesn’t hurt, either. So, we figured, let’s watch it, despite the bad reviews from critics.
Well, the critics weren’t wrong.
I get why regular viewers are enjoying it – it’s been several years since an actually good heist caper movie was around. The last one I can recall is The Gentlemen and that came out just before The Great Pause. So, yeah, a caper flick with pretty people sounds like just the ticket in this Year That Is No Better Than The Last Horrible Year.
Only, Ocean’s 11 this is not. Well, it could be compared to the original Ocean’s 11, which had the Hot People Of That Day in it. It was awful, but they were in it.
Reynolds is a master thief with Interpol’s Red Notice on him. Gadot is The Bishop, also with a Red Notice. Johnson is the American FBI profiler trying to catch them both with assistance from Interpol. There are other actors in this, most notably Ritu Arya who plays Interpol Agent Des from the Art Crimes division, but no one actually matters other than the three leads. Des is just there to “complicate” things.
The two master thieves are after the missing Egg of Cleopatra – supposedly Marc Antony gave her three exquisite eggs for their wedding. Now one is in a museum, one is in an arms dealer’s private collection, and one is lost forever. There is an Egyptian billionaire offering $30 Million for all three eggs in time for his daughter’s wedding, which is something like a week away. The thieves want the money, the profiler needs to catch them and clear his name. Captures, escapes, capers, and double-crosses ensue.
Red Notice lacks several things to make it really zing. The chemistry between the leads is the first. I adore all three actors, and yet together they felt less than the sum of their parts. Jokes that didn’t rely only on Reynolds’ ability to “be Deadpool” in anything or the fact that Johnson is a big, big man would have been a help. Racing around the world to basically only see the inside of a soundstage was clunky at best. Constant homages to better movies than this one only identified that this one was stapled together versus crafted.
Intelligence in the script, though, is the biggest lack. I mean, who didn’t snicker for all the wrong reasons when Johnson leaps into a Porsche and both fits and doesn’t have to move the seat back? We own a Lexus IS300 which is larger than a Porsche, and literally, no one over 6 feet can fit in it without moving the seats all the way back and scrunching down.
But I allowed a lot of the stupidity because, hey, fun caper movie. But then they got to Argentina. And this movie lost me forever.
In Argentina, our protagonists find a hidden cache of treasure buried deep underground…and nothing has changed in 100 years so that they can find it easily. Then they go down into this massively created tunnel/vault. It’s filled with stolen Nazi art.
NOW…let’s remember that the offer for the three eggs is $30 Million. Let us also think back to better movies like National Treasure or Ocean’s 8. Looted Nazi artworks are priceless. Countries will pay unbelievable amounts for their return and rediscovery. Red Notices can be forgiven if what you find you then turn over to the authorities for a percentage of the worth. In other words, what’s in this cache is worth ten times what’s being offered for those stupid eggs.
Meaning that an intelligent thief looks at this as his retirement find, and figures out how to capitalize on it, he doesn’t continue to search for the stupid egg and ignore everything else. He starts getting these things sold to buyers or sold back to countries.
Also, this means that the Interpol team FROM ART CRIMES that’s following said thief will NOT start shooting up a bunch of priceless artworks. They will see them and immediately stop caring about catching the thief and instead start caring about getting these artworks to safety pronto.
But neither option is what happens. Nope. Instead, we get a gun battle destroying priceless art AND a chase scene in a 75-year-old car that both starts AND has a full tank of gas AND doesn’t explode, through a supposedly impregnable exit that sends that priceless car over a waterfall (what?) to the bottom of a body of water (next to an old copper mine, what?), and allows our protagonists to escape.
There is one twist you won’t see coming, but by then I was hate-watching this movie. That it’s set up for, and likely to get, a sequel makes me sad in a resigned way.
Basically, Red Notice is a tacked-together compilation of better heist and action films that wants to be super cool but is merely lukewarm. That it’s beloved by so many people already indicates that, despite what everyone says, most viewers want whatever Hollywood gives them, even if it’s leftovers from previous decades wrapped up in a shiny bow of pretty actors. Happy holidays indeed.