Red Notice

Red Notice ★★½

Historically speaking, “Red Notice” should be unwatchable. For starters, Netflix’s previous fall blockbusters (e.g. “Bright,” “6 Underground”) have been very bad. Not just bad in the way that movies are bad, but bad in the way that war crimes are bad — they shouldn’t have been reviewed by critics so much as tried at the Hague. These are films so bad that Joe Rogan should have spent an episode of his podcast spreading batshit conspiracy theories about how they escaped from the Netflix content labs. These are films so bad that you half expect to see Forrest Gump stumbling through their crowd shots as part of his accidental journey through America’s defining crises.

But at least they were directed by people with strong artistic sensibilities. “Red Notice,” on the other hand, is the brainchild of Rawson Marshall Thurber, a once-promising comedy director (“DodgeBall,” “We’re the Millers”) who was more fun to resent for his what if Colin Jost and Henry Cavill went into that machine from “The Fly” together good looks than for his role in enabling Dwayne Johnson’s quixotic quest to simultaneously become the most charismatic and least interesting movie star of all time. Thurber may not be quite as complicit as “San Andreas” and “Rampage” auteur Brad Peyton, but “Central Intelligence” and “Skyscraper” are both summer blockbusters so bland they helped to deflate the entire tradition of such tentpoles. Whatever points they scored for “originality” were negated by their perverse determination to seem mass-produced.

That Thurber and Johnson’s latest collaboration is reportedly the most expensive movie Netflix has ever made would be reason enough to assume that “Red Notice” is just another high-concept spectacle in which the bravery of Johnson’s character is betrayed by the actor-producer’s life-threatening allergy to creative risk. Add Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot into the mix — two other A-list stars whose sense of range seems to end with their costumes — and you have such a perfect storm of modern Hollywood mediocrity that people might start hoarding toilet paper and canned goods before it reaches land.

Alas, you already know where this is going: Call it an early Hanukkah miracle (as one drop of inspiration somehow manages to power this movie for almost two full hours), but “Red Notice” is a lot of fun, if often in spite of itself. While in essence still the kind of flavorless slop that a peevish critic might have expected Netflix to produce from these ingredients, this globe-hopping tale of cops and robbers on the hunt for Nazi gold is glazed with enough panache, humor, and franchise-thirsty ambition to feel like it isn’t taking the audience for granted.

~this review continues on IndieWire~