One of the worst cinema sins is a film that wastes talent, and “Red Notice” is in the running for this year’s most notable offender. An action comedy with an A-list cast (Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds) and a big budget sounds like a slam dunk (and by all accounts, it should be), but this bland, unfunny wannabe blockbuster from writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber has few redeeming qualities.
FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson) is on the case of a red notice, Interpol’s highest level warrant, to track down art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds). He searches the globe for the notorious robber and finally catches up with him in Bali. Interpol is searching for Cleopatra’s missing golden eggs, and Nolan claims to know the person who has one of them: the world’s most wanted art thief, The Bishop (Gadot). Wanting to retrieve the egg and capture The Bishop, John and Nolan are forced to work together to crack the case. Their unlikely partnership leads to a lot of bickering and takes them on an adventure around the world, from cities to jungles and everywhere in between.
The odd couple pairing is as obvious as the double-crossing that ensues. Where Reynolds’ shtick was once (dare I say) charming, it has now grown tiresome and strained. His one-liners are as cringe-worthy as his dated delivery. Even Johnson’s movie star charisma fizzles here, and the ever-appealing Gadot is misused in a weak, too-familiar role. The chemistry is wonky between the actors too, but at least everyone looks good while they’re doing all this globetrotting and swindling.
The story is derivative as well, with a predictable formula that fills in the blanks of its plot with uninspired fight scenes and bloodless gunplay that’s just so dull. Plenty of memorable films have been made about art thieves, but they’re at least entertaining. Action movies are supposed to be fun, and “Red Notice” delivers nothing but overwhelming disappointment at every turn.