The Star Power of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot Can’t Save ‘Red Notice’

Netflix’s latest blockbuster, action comedy “Red Notice,” is centered around a trio of ancient artifacts, golden eggs gifted to Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, that set in motion a worldwide heist two millenniums later. In a convoluted plot that blurs the line between cop and criminal, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot star as three seemingly different people on the hunt for these golden eggs, now scattered in different parts of the planet.

Johnson plays John Hartley, an FBI agent who heads to Rome on a hot tip about a plan to swipe one of the eggs from a museum. There, he first encounters Nolan Booth (Reynolds), a fast, quick-witted art thief, one of two best in the world. The other one is Sarah Black, better known as the Bishop (Gadot). Booth manages to slip away, but Hartley and his colleague, Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya), track him down in Bali and take what they believe to be the egg he stole. Booth is a somewhat interesting thief, as he’s not entirely motivated by financial gain. One priceless painting even decorates his own wall. After Das discovers that the egg is a fake, she blames Hartley, and it doesn’t help matters that The Bishop funneled eight million dollars into an account under his name. Das sends him to Russian prison with Booth, and from there the film becomes a buddy comedy, with “Johnny Law” Hartley forced to work with Booth, who is basically a version of a character we’ve seen Reynolds play over and over. Think “Van Wilder Goes to Prison.” 

After coming face-to-face with Bishop and another daring escape, Hartley and Booth end up at the sprawling Spanish home of arms dealer and sociopath Sotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos), who is in possession of the second egg. The third one is in a secret location that allegedly only Booth knows of. From there, there are plenty of twists and turns as the three main characters compete against each other, with Hartley and Booth struggling to work together as a team. The two men get to talking about their respective childhoods and learn that both had less-than-stellar relationships with their fathers. Like so many films we’ve seen before, this one explores the idea that cops and criminals really aren’t all that different at the end of the day, and they often have similar motivations. In order to clear his name, Hartley has to be a “bad guy,” but seems to be having trouble adjusting. 

While Johnson and Reynolds are not strangers to comedy, and appear to be phoning it in at times, Gadot, who has less experience with this genre, has fun flexing her funny bone. There are amusing moments in “Red Notice,” including a cameo from Ed Sheeran, who proves to be a good sport by mocking himself and his appearance in “Game of Thrones,” that got him trolled on Twitter. But the fatal flaw of “Red Notice” is that it is vastly overstuffed. It seems, writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber had problems editing his script, and somewhere between Hartley and Booth being trapped in the middle of a bullfight in Spain and hunting stolen Nazi loot in Argentina, the reason for this movie existing starts to wane. Marshall Thurber most likely set out to make a film that could have fun playing with action movie tropes, as there are plenty of little winks at the audience, but the final production is a warmed-over version of far superior heist films.

Red Notice” releases Nov. 5 in select theaters and begins streaming Nov. 12 on Netflix.