Movie: Red Notice
Production Companies: Flynn Picture Companies, Seven Bucks Production, Bad Version Inc
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Producers: Beau Flynn, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Rawson Marshall Thurber, Hiram Garcia
Scriptwriter: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Main Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos
Release Date: November 5, 2021
Running Time: 118 minutes
Well this was unexpected for Red Notice. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised given the star power of the three leads: Reynolds, Gadot and Johnson. The film is a blast but don’t go in expecting high quality twists. Why? If you’ve ever seen a film where a cop and criminal team up against a bigger criminal, you know the twist already. I’ve attached a link to the film’s IMDB page so you can learn more about it. Also, SPOILERS ahead. But enough waffling, let’s get into my Red Notice review.
Red Notice Synopsis
Red Notice opens with a brief overview of the film’s macguffin: Cleopatra’s three golden eggs before it jumps to 2021. Also SPOILERS for the film ahead!
Hartley encounters Booth
Here we meet special agent John Hartley (Johnson) who the FBI assigns to help Interpol agent Urvashi Das (Arya). They are investigating the potential theft of one of the eggs at the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Much to the horror of the museum’s head of security, someone replaces the egg with a forgery. Just as Das is locking the room down, Nolan Booth (Reynolds) escapes with the egg and Hartley pursues him.
Booth eventually escapes to his home in Bali but Hartley tracks him down along with an Interpol squad. However, as Booth prepares for prison in a armoured van, his main criminal competition, Sarah Black (Gadot), replaces the egg with another forgery and escapes. Black is also known as the Bishop (remember this detail). The next day, Das accuses Hartley of stealing the egg and is sent to prison. He ends up in the same Russian prison as Booth.
The race for the second egg
Soon after their arrival, both men are brought to Black who offers Booth a chance to help her find the remaining eggs. This in turn reveals Booth knows where the third egg is located. After Booth declines her offer, he and Hartley decide to steal the eggs together. After escaping prison, the pair arrive in Valencia, where the second egg is in the possession of Voce (Diamantopoulos). Voce is a notorious arms dealer who keeps the egg in his vault, where Hartley and Booth bump into Black. After a battle with various weapons in the vault, Black handcuffs the men together before revealing she was working with Voce. Hartley is then tortured by Black and Voce as they believe Booth told him the location of the third egg. Black then double crosses Voce and heads for Egypt where Booth claimed the egg was. However, swerve!
The Race for the Third Egg
After leaving Valencia, Booth reveals the third egg’s real location is Argentina. How would he know this? It’s location is on the bottom of his fathers watch which apparently once belonged to Hitler’s curator Rudolph Zeich. After some Nazi art exposition, Booth and Hartley find the egg in a bunker within the jungles of Argentina. Black then arrives to take the egg until Das and a group of Interpol agents arrive to arrest all three. The three criminals then escape in a vintage Mercedes whilst Das gives chase. Eventually the chase leads them to the top of a waterfall before all three jump off it. Just as Booth gets to shore with the egg, swerve! Hartley and Black reveal they are partners and take the third egg, leaving Booth handcuffed to a tree in the Amazon. Hartley also reveals he is the Bishop, taking the title from his father.
Aftermath of the race for the Eggs
Now in Cairo, Hartley and Black hand the three eggs over to an Egyptian billionaire buyer in time for his daughter’s wedding. However, this gesture is largely forgotten as the bride is happier to see guest singer Ed Sheeran. Then Das and Interpol interrupt the wedding trying to arrest Hartley and Black. The film jumps to six months later where Hartley and Booth are on a yacht in Sardinia. Booth then arrives and tells them Das knows about their Cayman Islands account so they have no money, due to it being frozen. Booth then tells them Interpol are on the way but offers them a way out: he needs two more people to help him with a new heist. Hartley and Booth then accept and they escape where they proceed to plan a heist on the Louvre. Das then places red notices on all of them.
Swerves in Red Notice
To begin the analysis part of my Red Notice review, let’s talk about the sheer amount of swerves and double crosses. There’s films with swerves and then there’s Red Notice. Almost every character swerves someone with Black and Hartley particularly bad for this. I’m not saying the swerves ruined the film but it does make it unintentionally hilarious. Some swerves work, like the twist of Hartley being a conman, but some just don’t make sense, like how Black knew the third egg was in Argentina.
These swerves also leave the audience to assume certain details that go otherwise unexplained like how Das just keeps appearing where the thieves are. I guess she could be tracking them but to a pedantic film reviewer it’s annoying. With a sequel about to be greenlit, expect plenty more swerves to come. The director must have had a bet on how many swerves he could fit into one film. To Swerve or To Swerve? That isn’t a question. To conclude this paragraph, Pirates of the Caribbean called: they want their only plot twist back.
Deus Ex Machinas in Red Notice
The next major part that I’m going to be touching on in my Red Notice review is the overuse of deus ex machinas in the film. Basically, this means when a plot point is abruptly solved by an unexpected occurrence. I could just apply this to the whole third act and leave it there but that’s too easy. One example of this is how Booth just turns up in Sardinia which I guess is fine but how did he know Hartley and Black were there? I can hazard a guess, he knew because the screenwriter knew.
Likewise how do Interpol keep finding the three criminals everywhere they go? As mentioned above, Agent Das and Interpol keep turning up without any evidence of tracking or tip offs. I’m not saying release the tracking cut but otherwise am I to assume Interpol are magic or just a vessel for the screenwriters? Finally another glaring deus ex machina is Booth escaping the Amazon. I guess Interpol freed him but why would they trust him? He’s the second most wanted art thief in the world, for goodness sake! Look I get I sound very moany but these things bug me when I rewatch a film.
The chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds
However, I’m not completely joyless as the best part of Red Notice is the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds. This is the final portion of the analysis section of my Red Notice review. If I had to make a comparison, I’d compare it to another Johnson buddy cop style film: Central Intelligence. Both films see Johnson paired with a comedic friend and both films are better for this. Take the scene where Hartley and Booth are asleep on bunk beds. This scene is filmed using a dirty two shot with shallow focus on the actor not speaking.
Reynold’s obliviousness to Johnson being asleep through the whole of his sad dad monologue might be a over told joke but is still great to watch. Likewise Reynold’s obliviousness pops up again when the two men are trying to escape the prison. How? Booth takes Hartley’s advice to save himself literally and tries to get away without Hartley. Admittedly this leads to a very silly slow motion of the Rock jumping onto a helicopter. Even that ludicrous stunt can’t kill the joy that Reynolds brings to this film.
Red Notice Summary
To conclude my Red Notice review, don’t go into this film expecting tight storytelling or a logical reason behind why so many double crosses happen. If you love films that make you laugh intentionally (and unintentionally) with a simple story goal, Red Notice is the film for you.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Okay
Target Audience: 12+
Content: Mild Sexual Content, Mild Violence, Strong Language