Ryan Reynolds as one of the two most skilled art thieves in the world is the first of many preposterous things Red Notice asks you to swallow. The movie doesn't take itself even remotely seriously, which turns out to be a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that, if it did, it would be a pretentious drag. A curse in that its string of absurdities is so endless that you get worn down after a while. Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence) practically beats you over the head, demanding that you have fun. Nothing about the film is subtle.
Dwayne Johnson plays Interpol agent John Hartley. He believes that Reynolds' character, Nolan Booth, will steal one of three priceless designer eggs that once belonged to Cleopatra. He's correct on that count. Then the other of the two most skilled art thieves in the world, the Bishop (Gal Gadot), steals the egg from Booth, framing both men for the crime. They end up in prison and must work together, not only to escape, but also to prevent the Bishop from locating the third egg. The plot sounds stupid as I type it. It is stupid. There has never been a movie where eggs were discussed more than they are here.
What follows is a series of highly non-sensical crosses, double-crosses, triple-crosses, and quadruple-crosses. Red Notice is one of those movies that mistakes continual surprise plot twists for actual storytelling. Such twists are so prevalent that, after a while, the inclination arises to stop trying to follow them. They create plot holes the size of tanker trucks because they're often random. Logic is not the picture's strong suit.
When it isn't busy twisting itself into a pretzel, Red Notice indulges in extremely hyperactive, over-the-top action sequences with gunfire, explosions, people dangling from heights, and bare-knuckle brawls – sometimes all at once. A couple of those scenes are admittedly amusing. The Hartley/Booth prison break is well-done, ending with a funny bit involving a rocket launcher and a helicopter.
Others defy logic. Here's a prime example of how ridiculous the movie is. Hartley and Booth discover a staircase that descends into an underground lair. The place is filled with objects, including a car. They surmise that there must be a tunnel that was used to haul all this stuff in. Soon after, the men and Bishop hop into that car and are chased down that tunnel. It abruptly ends, however, on the side of a cliff, sending them flying through the air. So how did the car get in there in the first place? Yes, you're supposed to suspend disbelief when you watch a silly action movie. Red Notice is filled with brainless moments, making suspension difficult.
Johnson, Reynolds and (especially) Gadot are fine. They seem to be having a good time together, and that provides a certain level of entertainment. Who doesn't enjoy watching three charismatic stars coming out to play? That said, Red Notice is on 10 from start to finish. Literally every minute of this film is bombastic. It's all action mayhem, wisecracks and in-jokes, stunts, and visual effects. At no point does it ever settle down to rest. An hour and fifty-five minutes subsequently ends up feeling about three times that long.
out of four
Red Notice is rated PG-13 for violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.