Red Notice movie review: Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot in an action comedy done right

Red Notice is Ryan Reynolds at his Ryan Reynolds-iest, and he is the best thing about the proceedings. His Nolan Booth perfectly summarises the experience of the film — hilarious, fun, and lovably irreverent in the best possible way.

Suchin Mehrotra November 09, 2021 08:11:39 IST

3.5/5

Language: English

It is not easy getting the big, flashy, full-bodied blockbuster right. To infuse just the right amount of cheeky self-awareness with winning banter and explosive action, without ever diving into the ridiculous and getting away from itself. To offer an experience that entertains and engages without feeling hollow and soulless. But writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're The Millers, Central Intelligence, Dodgeball) gets it.

The big action-comedy romp done right, on face value, Red Notice feels like a movie you have seen done badly a million times before. But I am glad to say that is certainly not the case here. Led by unnaturally good-looking people (Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot), Red Notice is a  good old-fashioned, globetrotting, swashbuckling adventure that is part buddy-cop movie, part heist flick, and part Indiana Jones-style adventure. I would go as far as to say that, for those who are yet to venture back, it is the ideal movie to return to the big screen for. Ironic, given it is a Netflix-only release in India.

Reynolds is Nolan Booth, the world’s second greatest art thief. Hot on his trail is top FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson), who has been tracking Booth around the world. But two steps ahead of both of them is the world’s top art thief known only as The Bishop (Gadot). When Hartley is framed for a crime he himself is investigating, he is forced to team up with Booth to take down the Bishop once and for all. 

Make no mistake, Red Notice breaks no new ground, but it is not particularly interested in doing so. Nor are any of the actors playing actual characters of any sort. Everyone is playing versions of themselves. This was always going to be an action movie that sails off the back of a clash of charisma between hot movie stars, giant action set pieces, and a slideshow of exotic locations, and it works wonderfully. 

Red Notice movie review Ryan Reynolds Dwayne Johnson Gal Gadot in an action comedy done right

Once again, The Rock is the serious-no-nonsense-brooding-intensity cop, and Reynolds is the quick-witted art thief with a mouth. The movie rests entirely on Reynold’s industrial-sized wit, charm, and one-liners meeting The Rock’s industrial-sized intensity and well... self. But their golden back and forth aside, Red Notice is a Ryan Reynolds show all the way. 

It is Ryan Reynolds at his Ryan Reynolds-iest, and he is the best thing about the proceedings. His Nolan Booth perfectly summarises the experience of the film hilarious, fun, and lovably irreverent in the best possible way. 

As you would expect, he gets all the best moments and quips. Typical Ryan-isms that only he could come up with. So much so that it seriously brings writer-director Thurber’s writing credit into question, at least in terms of the dialogue.

While the supernaturally gorgeous Gal Gadot’s mere presence lights up the screen, the same cannot be said for her hit-and-miss act which proves to be the weakest of the trio. Gadot’s Bishop works best in the "teaching the bumbling boys how it’s done" scenes in the early parts of the film, and is far less watchable later on when she goes full-blown campy 'villain.'

On the ass-kicking front, action is always a worry for movies like this where we have come to expect the frantic-disorienting-hyper-cutting-disorienting brand of fight sequences. But the action here proves far less choppy and cutty than the average assault-on-the-eyes blockbuster. What is more, the film also makes an admirable effort of blending comedy into the action. Whether it is the impressive long-take opening sequence that leads up to Nolan Booth’s playful introduction scene — where he pushes, kicks, and makes a fool of the police with the help of some scaffolding. Or even later on with a well-timed snowball during a Russian prison break sequence.

The proceedings do lose steam, however, towards the more tired last leg of the film. It also does not help that Ritu Arya as the Interpol agent trying to capture the trio proves to be little more than a convenient plot device who appears when the movie needs her to most. Still, these do not take away from the simple fact that I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed an action comedy this much.

Aside from offering everything you would want from a movie like this, Red Notice also manages to help break Netflix’s poor track record of event blockbusters (Bright, 6 Underground, Army Of The Dead). Despite its appearances, Red Notice is more than mere empty movie calories, it is deeply satisfying comfort food.

Red Notice will premiere in India on Netflix on 12 November.

Rating: ***1/2

Watch the trailer here

Suchin Mehrotra is a film journalist and movie junkie who sincerely believes movies can change the world. You can find him on Twitter at @suchin545.

Updated Date:

also read

The Protégé film review: Maggie Q regales as action star in a film that rehashes her hit series Nikita
Entertainment

The Protégé film review: Maggie Q regales as action star in a film that rehashes her hit series Nikita

The Protégé fails to capitalise on impressive acts from Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton owing to its jaded narrative

The Tender Bar movie review: Ben Affleck is in fine form in George Clooney's frequently funny, empathetic directorial
Entertainment

The Tender Bar movie review: Ben Affleck is in fine form in George Clooney's frequently funny, empathetic directorial

George Clooney lets his protagonist breathe, and The Tender Bar is a richer, funnier, wiser story because of that.

36 Farmhouse movie review: Zero-energy, zero-thought thriller produced by the director who once made Karz
Entertainment

36 Farmhouse movie review: Zero-energy, zero-thought thriller produced by the director who once made Karz

36 Farmhouse, written and produced by Subhash Ghai, is cringeworthy, yet not so much as to fall into a so-bad-it-is-entertaining slot.