“Hum dono hai alag alag, hum dono hai juda juda”, I couldn’t help but sing this 90s Bollywood song from ‘Main Khiladi Tu Anari’ as Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds embarrassed themselves onscreen. If actors Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan teamed up together to make a smart cop vs dumb actor movie again, it would probably be a 100 times more entertaining than Johnson’s latest. Ryan in an interview had talked about how his film ‘Free Guy’ took inspiration from Bollywood, but he & Johnson take direct notes from Indian super-star Rajinikanth’s playbook in ‘Red Notice’, sans the swag.
Directed and written by Rawson Marshall Thurber, this 2021 Netflix film costs a crazy 200 million dollars, and is the streaming site’s most expensive movie yet. But for all the money they blew on this project, they couldn’t afford decent scriptwriters, CGI artists or even a believable Buddha statue that could pass off as an antique piece. It looks like they just picked it up from some flea market downtown. Thurber got a 10 million dollar paycheck for writing & directing, so some more work to show for it would have been nice. He does spin an interesting (fictional) historical legend as backstory for this heist/treasure hunt story, but after that he seems to have just given up.
Let’s talk plot. Dwayne Johnson is interpol agent John Hartley, who is on the heels of renowned art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds). Both these men are conned by a mysterious super-thief ‘Bishop’ played by Gal Gadot, who is pretty much wonder-woman with a snooty attitude. Seriously, she mysteriously appears out of nowhere all the time and kicks the butt out of hulking men. And what are these super-thieves after? The legendary eggs of Queen Cleopatra. Well, not her literal eggs, they couldn’t freeze them back then, but three mythical bejeweled eggs that were gifted to the Egyptian queen by her lover Mark Antony. The makers take every opportunity to make egg jokes, to the point that they get annoying as fuck.
This movie looks like a giant excuse for the stars and crew of the film to go vacationing around the world. The story is spread over Rome, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt and whatever else. Everybody was clearly just having some fun with this, nobody probably had the time to actually finish the script. So they just did some random fill in the blanks. And what’s with almost every character having ‘daddy issues’? Ryan Reynold’s Nolan Booth is exactly like Deadpool, except he gets to keep his cute face while making dirty jokes. “Top or bottom?” he asks from a bunk-bed, when Hartley enters his prison cell. Few seconds later, there’s a shower scene where Booth is talking about soap, and it’s almost disappointing that they didn’t make him drop the soap bar to make another inappropriate comment. There are a few clever lines that will crack viewers up, but for most parts, it’s hard to pay attention. The story is stretched so much that you’d rather go sleep than suffer through this brainless creation.
For the kind of budget the movie has, even the cinematography isn’t all that great. A lot of the camera-work is shaky, making scenes annoying on the eye. Especially in the very first few minutes of the film where Dwayne chases Ryan though a museum. The mind-numbingly dumb incidents that follow don’t help. For example there’s a scene where a bazooka is shot at a fleeing chopper, and miracles of miracles – the rocket flies right through the open doors of the flying machine. L-O-L. Or how about a 1935 car model lying unused since the 1940s roaring to life and running like a badass in 2021.
Netflix has clearly placed its money on the A-list actors headlining ‘Red Notice’. Storytelling be damned.
It’s a 4/10 from me.