Netflix had hyped Red Notice up considerably, months before the film premiered on the streamer, calling it one of its “biggest movies” to date. But a staggering budget, stunning visuals and a star-studded ensemble could not prevent the film from being the disaster that it is, making ‘biggest flop’ ever a more apt description.
After two subsequent collaborations with Dwayne Johnson, one would expect the director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, to create something less hollow than Red Notice. A basic heist film that derives heavily from other titles in the genre and certain cheap Bollywood flicks, it is one of the streamers biggest let-downs this year. Although the film has generated whopping revenue due to chart-topping streaming, the audience reaction has not been warm and receptive. The story so far seems to be: come for the stars, leave because of the plot.
Starring Johnson, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, some of the biggest A-list celebrities around, the film promised a nerve-wracking face-off among the Rock, Wonder Woman and Deadpool, fulfilling every superhero geek’s dreams. However, the film portrayed a shallow portrait of the same as the trio kept trying to display their individual charisma and talent while adhering to the poorly-written, flimsy script.
Reynolds is a smooth-talking, sly art thief who teams up with FBI Agent Hartley, played by Johnson, to find an ancient egg and stop the seductive Gadot as Black from stealing it. Incorporating elements of mythological artefacts from Indiana Jones (along with the Nazi arc), introducing a scintillating yet dangerous seductress in the form of Godot while deriving inspiration from Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct to introducing a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde narrative that reveals Hartley and Black to be on the same team. In the end, the film seems like a confused and garbled conglomeration of ideas that needed a much more deft and clean execution.
The cinematography is brilliant and promises a power-packed punch of action and stunt work that never arrives. Reynolds is sarcastic, goofy and charming, but his larger than life persona contrasts with Johnson’s sullenness. There are moments when the duo clicks into gear but, otherwise, we’re left without the tag team we’d all dreamed of. Gadot, too, misses out. Not only does she seemingly lack comedic bones, but her sensual tango with Johnson is palpably awkward. The director’s vision is messy and incomprehensible. The elements of a heist film are hardly present. The premise is far from riveting and, other than the aforementioned stars, the title really lacks anything tangibly interesting.
Films like Red Notice, Army of Thieves and The Open House raise questions regarding Netflix’s competence in terms of content creation. The fact that the streamer would allocate millions of dollars to a film irrespective of the quality of the script is pretty concerning in terms of the future of cinema.
It seems like the concerns of veteran directors are not wrong- too much content production leads to a compromise on quality. Spending billions on a disappointing film like Red Notice to appease the star-studded ensemble shows Netflix’s affinity towards wasteful and foolish projects that only seem shiny and attractive in two-minute trailers- something they should try sticking to.