Just in time for some Thanksgiving family boredom, Netflix released a new, campy, buddy-heist starring three big names and a promise of fun, Red Notice. But can this crimson tinted bundle of intentional cliches amount to anything more than a tedious formulaic waste of screen time?
The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And finally: Is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: Red Notice
Overall Rating: Crap
Following two art thieves and an FBI agent on the hunt for a priceless artifact, Red Notice’s plot is really not more complicated than this one sentence. Stealing from every major franchise with a similar point of view (Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, etc), Red Notice believes it can make up for being a nothing sandwich by referencing the films it is copying. It cannot.
The storyline is unforgivably slow, has pretty low stakes and walks too fine a line with its camp. With the three big stars really just phoning it in, the movie seems more like a branding exercise put together by their agents than intended to be a feature film. Red Notice would work better as a ten minute short released before a real movie or like a three minute ad campaign or something.
It’s not very fun and it’s definitely not interesting and I don’t think it’ll save you from family board games this holiday season. It has exactly no point of view whatsoever. In short: Red Notice is absolute crap.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: More like boRED Notice amiright?
The biggest crime of Red Notice is that it’s extremely boring. If you’re going to throw millions of dollars at a buddy-heist full of comedy and camp it should probably be fun. That is probably the minimum measure of what it should be. But it’s not at all and in fact it drags on and on even after the climax and the big reveal. In an effort to set up some sort of never-going-happen franchise, it refuses to end.
Its not just the formula that makes it boring. It also just has way too much exposition and tries to fit too much into a short time. For example: the dynamic duo of Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Hitman’s Bodyguard) as Nolan Booth and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (Central Intelligence, Fast Franchise) spend an inexplicable amount of time incarcerated chatting with each other.
Its okay for an action flick (especially a buddy-heist) to be cheesy. But it is unforgivable for it to be boring. In fact other films of this genre which these men and women have starred in have achieved fantastic success by bringing fun, spirit and originality to an important formula of the film marketplace. For example: The most recent installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, F9. It was absolute nonsense. But it was intentional nonsense and it was fun. Another example featuring Dwayne Johnson would be The Mummy: The Scorpion King or even one of his latest, Jungle Cruise. So to be clear it isn’t that silly, action packed, artifact centered movies cannot be entertaining. It’s that Red Notice refused to be fun.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: I mean…it looked expensive and that’s something I guess
Despite costing a cool $160 million (and it showed) the movie’s best quality was that it was well glossed. The plotline was so predictable even its “double twist” at the end was exactly as expected and hinted at pretty aggressively through the whole movie.
Further – the story was so low stakes. It was not believable at all that global law enforcement agencies in a time of terrorism, bioweapons, refugee crises, human trafficking, cyber attacks, and energy dependence on the middle east would give even a single staff person to some priceless egg. No one cares. Somehow in this particular film my belief just could not be suspended that the highest level of government would actually waste millions of dollars chasing down some fancy art. In other films of its kind, the artifacts are somehow given more importance or significance beyond financial value. Especially since the financial value was of no consequence to anyone in particular considering the egg in question has been “lost” for thousands of years.
I had an easier time believing intelligence agencies would chase down a team of thieving magicians in the film Now You See Me and it’s sequel that nobody asked for than I did believing they’d chase these characters in Red Notice. Especially since the “Red Notice” in question is for the most wanted criminals in the entire world. You’re telling me that two art thieves and a recently suspected baddie former FBI agent with 0 illegal kills between the three of them are the “most wanted” criminals in the world? You know people sell children into slavery right? It makes no sense at all.
Further Reynolds, Johnson and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Fast Franchise) really just did versions of their branded stock characters. Reynolds is known for his plucky one liners and his cool guy sense of ease in various action films like Deadpool. He’s good at what he does (and he’s good at alternative material), it just came off particularly generic in this one. Johnson is known for his good hearted charming tough guy bit and he’s done it repeatedly well but in Red Notice it felt particularly like you could have plopped him in any movie and he could have been any character in any world. Gadot was less a stock version of herself (Wonder Woman is not a femme fatale) and more just a stock version of this particular character which is “hot lady in tight clothes that make no sense for the mission does bad guy.” Actually even her Wonder Woman character did that when she wore an extremely impractical dress with a giant sword in it.
All together the story was tired and needed editing, the actors lacked original performances or any nuance, and the cinematography was basic at best. Not good.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Only in deep abstract
There wasn’t much agenda except the hero worship of international intelligence agencies. I always like to point out that government intelligence officials are not your friend. Especially ones wasting money and time chasing down some expensive gold egg.
Red Notice was total crap and it’s not really worth watching even if you’re desperate to get away from your family’s passive aggressive dinner table arguments this Thanksgiving.