Got to say this for Red Notice — it knows exactly what kind of a movie it is: a mashup of a classic caper tale and Indiana Jones that’s fully aware of how the star power involved will draw people in, and thus makes sure to put said stars (Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot) front and center.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber also makes sure that all 118 minutes of the film move along at a brisk pace, with plenty of action set-pieces, twists, and heist hijinks along the way. Things begin with notorious art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) attempting to steal one of the three legendary (and incredibly valuable) eggs of Cleopatra, with special agent John Hartley (Johnson) determined to track him down and stop him, building up to a globe-trotting adventure packed with legitimately laugh-out-loud moments of comedy.
There’s a notion that if it’s not a serious awards contender like The Power of the Dog or Passing, Netflix original films aren’t “real” films. But real talk, the vast majority of Red Notice‘s viewers will watch it on Netflix after a long day, appreciating the convenience of blockbuster-adjacent cinema being available in their homes. They’ll have a pretty nice time. Red Notice is not high art, but that’s not always what you need. Sometimes, what you need is two movie stars searching for lost treasure and making stuff explode.
To talk about this movie in general strokes means to reduce it down in ways that smother the fun out of it. So, instead, let’s break down all the reasons why is far from the worst viewing choice out there, and might even be worth your time.
09. A Match Made In Blockbuster Heaven
There’s something that feels fated about pairing Johnson and Reynolds together in a film like this, as both actors have found a lot of similar success in buddy action films utilizing their specific personas — just with different partners. Johnson, of course, has suited up multiple times with Kevin Hart as his foil, while just this year Reynolds starred with Samuel L. Jackson in sequel film The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife.
While both men have more than proven their abilities to lead a film solo, these team-ups let both actors lean into their sweet spots as movie stars: Johnson gets to play the heavy and lift heavy things, while Reynolds gets to sling around one-liners and play a more impish role.
08. There Are Lots of Tuxes and Exotic Locations
The world may be reopening to some degree right now, but the era of staying home in our sweatpants is not exactly a distant memory, and thus there’s still a vicarious thrill to be found in seeing beautiful people in beautiful locations wearing beautiful clothes. (Not of these points are going to be extremely highbrow, to be clear.)
07. There’s a Really Good Jurassic Park Joke
In general, Thurber’s script features a lot of solid bits (including an already infamous Vin Diesel reference) but an extended runner about being confused with a nature documentary is one of the film’s high points.
06. “Bubba” and “Baldilocks”
These are just two of the nicknames that Nolan uses for Hartley during this film. Great work, no notes.
05. “A Consulting Profiler Who Specializes in Art Crime”
That’s how Johnson’s special agent character is introduced, as a specialist in Again, perfect choice.
04. Gal Gadot Is Having a Lot of Fun
Okay, there are no moments on the same ethereal level as Diana trying ice cream for the first time, but while she’s more of a supporting player in Red Notice than the advertising would lead you to believe, she’s a joy to watch.
03. This Might Be Dwayne Johnson’s Best Film Romance Yet?
Without giving too much away, it’s worth noting that unlike other, more forced efforts to give Johnson a love interest in his film work (looking at you, ), features Johnson kissing another person in a way that actually feels believable and real. It’s not a big part of the story, but unlike other movies (sorry again, ) this relationship works.
Okay, one mild spoiler: The person being kissed is not Reynolds, in case you had your hopes up. But the ending clearly sets up the potential for a sequel, so we all can live in hope for the future.
02. There’s At Least One Truly Hilarious Cameo
The final act of features an appearance by a well-known musical artist, one who at this point is becoming pretty notorious for making cameos (he even makes a reference to one of his previous cameos). Perhaps that’s why he does such a good job here at playing with his star persona in a non-musical context.
01. It’s Just Meta Enough to Work
Thurber’s filmography is full of surprises — who would have ever predicted that the man who made his directorial debut with would end up becoming a go-to director for one of the planet’s biggest action stars? And yet here we are.
What’s fun about Thurber is that because his background in comedy (including the wildly under-appreciated ) pushes projects like just up to the edge of the line of parody without ever crossing over to the point where the drama feels meaningless.
Depending on your sense of humor, quips like “I don’t know, look for a box that says MacGuffin” might come off as a bit grating in the context of what might otherwise be considered a serious scene; but if you don’t mind your action comedies laced with a bit of meta, is a treat.