Ryan Reynolds has been running his regular smart mouth, nonchalantly confident, sarcastically polite nice guy schtick through about fifteen movies now. I’m sure that most regular filmgoers are getting pretty tired of it; I certainly have been. Reynolds seems to be committed to it though; showing absolutely no signs of changing things up and stretching himself. I can only assume that his idea is to keep going with it in the hope that sooner later people come round it it again, like vinyl or track suit bottoms on women.
To some extent his plan may be working because I enjoyed what he did in this film for almost a full twenty minutes. I mean it got old again pretty quickly but at the beginning, as his master criminal is facing off against Dwayne Johnson’s FBI agent, it was quite entertaining. There was a good foot chase, some nice banter and sure enough, some funny one liners. The rest of the film was lazy, underwritten and cliched, all laid over Reynolds’ one note and predictable performance, but the start was okay.
Dwayne Johnson needs to mix things up as well. Like his co-star, the man has great charisma and screen presence but once again he is playing the wry, comically muscular adventurer we have seen before. After two Jumanji films, that other Jungle movie, Skyscraper, Rampage and God knows how many Fast and Furiouses, I can’t believe that I find myself thinking he’d go back to doing something like Tooth Fairy again just to be different. Jumanji: The Next Level showed him to be a gifted comedy actor, capable of quirky characterisation but he hasn’t moved up at all with what he does in Red Notice. There are a couple of attempts to play with his infallible hero persona; one at the start where he revs up for a car chase only for his moment to be crashed, and another at the end which I will leave for you to discover because if you get to the end you deserve what little surprises you can get. He plays off Reynolds well enough, they’ve been in films together before, but his chemistry with Gal Gadot is nonexistent.
There have been a handful of announcements recently about future movies Gal Gadot has been cast in, notably Cleopatra and Snow White as the legendary and the evil Queen respectively and as the lead in a big Hedy Lamarr biopic. These sound promising which is great because the potential she has shown as Wonder Woman has not yet been realised anywhere else. Like her fellow stunt casting cast members in this, she looks like she has just turned up for the cheque. It has to be said that Ryan Reynolds is fairly unconvincing as the world’s second best jewel thief but she is even less so as the first.
I was distracted by Red Notice and the little star power it’s cast have mustered just about keeps it afloat but everyone really is just treading water. The references to Indiana Jones don’t help but you don’t need the comparison to realise what this could have been.
Don’t even get me started on Ed Sheeran.
The Ripley Factor:
There is no escaping the fact the thing Gal Gadot most brings to this is her looks. That’s no me saying that, it’s the director. Take the scene that sees both Johnson and Gadot emerge swimsuited from the sea and tell me I’m wrong.