(2021) (Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds) (PG-13)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Action-Comedy: An FBI profiler and a prolific art thief end up as unlikely partners as they try to prevent another art thief from stealing three rare pieces that once belonged to Cleopatra.
Long ago, Marcus Antonius of Rome had three large art eggs created for Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Two of those were found in the early 1900s, with one ending up in the possession of an international arms dealer, Sotto Voce (CHRIS DIAMANTOPOULOS), the second now held at an art museum in Rome, and the third nowhere to be found. FBI profiler John Hartley (DWAYNE JOHNSON), who specializes in art theft, is certain that art thief Nolan Booth (RYAN REYNOLDS) is targeting the one held in the museum, and he shows up there with Interpol agent Inspector Urvashi Das (RITU ARYA) and her team.
Nolan manages to elude them, but John and Urvashi later catch him, although the subsequent theft of that egg seems to point to John as the suspect. That results in him and Nolan ending up as cellmates in a black ops prison located deep inside Russia. There, they learn that the world's number one art thief, The Bishop (GAL GADOT), is behind their current situation, with her wanting to obtain all three eggs for her client, a wealthy Egyptian businessman who wants them for his daughter's wedding.
With John needing to clear his name and catch The Bishop, and Nolan wanting to beat her to the punch of obtaining those eggs, the two form an unlikely alliance to meet their goals.
- OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
To get by in this crazy world of ours, you typically need some sort of skill, be that innate or learned and trained into existence. But to excel, you usually need to add in a heaping dose of charisma, especially if the said skill is to create a raving fan base that will buy more of you and whatever service or product you might be selling.
Muhammad Ali was no doubt a great boxer, but what made him so memorable was his charisma. Politicians know this and use that to their advantage to gain followers who will vote for them. And Hollywood actors and actresses know that you can make a good living being talented, but to be a movie star you need a certain "it" factor, a.k.a. charisma.
That's an attribute that will get butts in seats, be that in the theater or at home, and most any new release needs at least one performer with that quality to ensure some degree of success. Of course, two would be even better, and having three charismatic performers in one movie would be, well, the holy cinematic trifecta.
The 2001 remake of "Ocean's Eleven" had that in spades -- sorry, couldn't resist throwing in a little card reference to the casino heist flick -- and while it's not as excellent as that offering, the crime caper based, action-comedy "Red Notice" has some serious star power.
The film was originally intended to be released by Universal in the summer of 2020, but we all know how such pre-pandemic plans ultimately played out. Now debuting on Netflix, the flick features three of the biggest stars working in movies today -- Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot -- and if there's ever been a film that could at minimum get by on the collective charisma of its cast, this would be the latest poster child for that.
Which is a good thing as the nearly two-hour-long movie otherwise feels derivative of various predecessors, something the flick occasionally acknowledges in a very transparent, meta way. For example, at one point, Reynolds' character starts whistling a familiar-sounding tune -- from a certain Harrison Ford archaeology flick -- as this pic veers into quite similar territory in the third act.
Yes, stolen art is the driving force behind this film from writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber. But long before the WWII-era Nazi elements show up, the film goes for the more generic -- but still slickly choreographed and shot -- storyline of a museum heist. It revolves around FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson) arriving at a Rome museum with Interpol agent Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) to thwart infamous art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) from stealing an ancient Egyptian egg art piece formerly owned by none other than Cleopatra.
Not surprisingly, the bad guy gets away with the piece, only to have it stolen by an even more accomplished art thief known only as The Bishop (Gadot) who then sets up the FBI agent to appear to be the bad guy. That results in Oscar and Felix, um, Hartley and Booth ending up as unlikely roommates -- okay, cellmates if you have to be accurate -- who must then reluctantly work together to thwart their diagonal moving adversary.
All of which results in big action set pieces, globetrotting to various locales, another villain (Chris Diamantopoulos as an arms dealer with the second out of three eggs and a Napoleon-type height complex), and Johnson and Reynolds essentially playing similar versions to other characters they've previously inhabited. At least Gadot plays against her typical character type (and has obvious fun doing so), but like her cohorts brings her instantly identifiable acting style to the part.
While those looking for any semblance of originality will be hard-pressed to find one iota of it here, the film ends up coming off like tasty comfort food in that you know what you're getting, it all goes down easily, and you'll likely feel satisfied after consuming it. Throw in a heaping helping of star power charisma, and "Red Notice" earns a 6 out of 10 rating.
Reviewed November 8, 2021 / Posted November 12, 2021
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