'Red Notice' review: Three stars phoning it in from a fancy looking phone
Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot all show up for this comedic heist thriller, and that's about the most that can be said for it, or them.
Not a single thing of consequence happens in "Red Notice." It's a cat and mouse game where neither the cat nor the mouse seems to be much into the game, so they decide to kick their feet up and relax midway through rather than trying any harder than they need to. Why tire yourself out when the result is the same anyway?
This slick and completely vapid star vehicle, engineered to be as generically down-the-middle as possible, stars Dwayne Johnson as an FBI profiler and Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot as a pair of master thieves. There are quips (courtesy of Reynolds, on auto pilot) and kicks (Gadot), as well as a double cross or two that couldn't matter less. The best thing that can be said about "Red Notice" is that is won't affect your life in any way whatsoever. It's just kind of there, like a lamp in the background.
Johnson is John Hartley, an agent who is tracking a trio of priceless artifacts once owned by Cleopatra. He's on the trail of Nolan Booth (Reynolds), a snarky thief who steals just for the thrill of it all, who soon makes off with one of the three golden eggs. A chase ensues.
Nolan shakes him but John soon gets his man, and through some computer manipulation they end up behind bars together inside a Russian prison. It seems John is the victim of a hacking scheme by a master criminal who goes by the name the Bishop, and she is played by "Wonder Woman's" Gadot.
Nolan and John do the mismatched buddies thing — "we're not friends," John says, "we're best friends!" Nolan replies — as the action hops around the globe. Eventually they're brought together with the Bishop and look, it's three really big Hollywood stars, and they're all together, at once! Eh, it's cheaper than a trip to Madame Tussauds, and at least slightly more realistic.
Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber, teaming up with Johnson for a third time (after "Central Intelligence" and "Skyscraper"), turns in a competent action film with just enough characteristics of a personality to mask the fact that is has no personality. Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot might as well have sent their avatars to the set for the level of work they put in here. It's not that the movie is an insult, because insults at least require effort, and that's more than "Red Notice" is willing to offer. And an insult has the potential to be memorable, which is more than anything in "Red Notice" has going for it.
Rated PG-13: for violence and action, some sexual references, and strong language
Running time: 117 minutes
In theaters, on Netflix Nov. 12