By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Banking on the talents of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot to carry a film is one way to get a Red Notice. There are a few elements to like, namely a sense of being a global spy type caper in the vein of Impossible Mission, but I see this film has an anime inspired root, namely Lupin the III. Like the thief, Nolan Booth (Reynolds) is crazy agile!
There’s some great wise-cracks from Reynolds (he excels at that). Johnson’s character (Hartley) is familiar and Gadot shines by being a villainess in the vein of The Baroness from GI Joe. As for whether they can all partner up is the name of the game because they’re art thieves.
The macguffin is with three eggs from a made-up history concerning the gifts Anthony presented to Cleopatra when he was courting her. One is more extravagant than the previous, and while two have been found prior to the movie’s start, the third is still missing and the father of Booth has a lead! Much like how Senior has been questing after the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, this film picks up from Booth’s point of view. But in this film’s case, these father figures figures into these criminal’s character development in different ways. Its assumed most of have passed on, but as for who may still be alive, perhaps that’s being saved for a sequel.
This film is very cat and mouse as we’re trying to decide who is the good guy and bad guy. In between the merry chase, the improv between Reynolds and Johnson is ridiculous. These two are playing up the straight man and funny man routine, and it works. All they need is a confident director to say okay. Now it’s time for us to focus. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s past success with Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and the mixed one with Central Intelligence suggests he lets the stars do their thing more than wrangle all that’s going on during the filming process.
When Gal Gadot finally enters the picture, the crime thriller has legs. She manipulates the two to search for the last egg, and the chase is on with Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) not too far behind. She’s more competent than Inspector Kōichi Zenigata in Lupin the III, but it is going to be tough for her to get the upper hand. If anything, fans will be pleased to see her play nasty when compared to how she presents herself in Wonder Woman.
The only thing different is that the animated master thief has three companions to help him out in his capers. There’s only three in Red Notice. Gadot is like the independent Fujiko, but to round out the usually three and sometimes four person team requires introducing another character. Hopefully there’ll be a sequel, but it’ll take time to come up with a new heist worthy of seeing the powerhouse trio reunite to take. I’m sure the Mona Lisa won’t be smiling.
4 Stars out of 5