RED NOTICE Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace sees red.
Red Notice as a film exists for one reason, and one reason only: to give viewers the joy of seeing Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot in a single movie. I will admit to you that I watched it for essentially that reason (similarly, I watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard for the sole reason that it had Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in it, and quite enjoyed it). Let’s not pretend that this film is anything other than a Hollywood attempt at moneymaking based on star power.

Fortunately for the viewer, those stars burn brightly. Those three stars have all proved their abilities before, and they prove them again here. The Rock takes the lead as John Hartley, an FBI officer specializing in art theft. Ryan Reynolds brings all the snark and swagger he brought to Deadpool to Nolan Booth, renowned art thief. Gal Gadot doesn’t get as much screen time, but she shines as the Bishop, another art thief whose paths have crossed with Booth before.

Red Notice is another example of a seeming trend of the resurrection of the action-comedy film genre. It is a film that has both the stylish action befitting a John Wick movie and comedy that is actually uproariously funny. Even more impressive is how balanced it is; each stays only as long as necessary, never stepping on the toes of the other.

In a development many of us could see coming (but watched the movie anyway), the Rock and Reynolds have very good chemistry. They are both funny men, but the Rock is much more of a straight man to Reynolds’ quipping funny man. Johnson is more reserved, with a wry wit that plays off well against the boisterousness of Reynolds. When Gadot joins them, she has an understatedness that bolsters them both.

Much like the James Bond movies that codified what we think an action movie should be, this movie takes you on a globe-trotting adventure through six countries and across four continents. There are a number of very creative environments here for which I must give the set designers a kudos. My favorite of all of these was a mansion party in Valencia that was properly opulent, befitting an international kingpin. There is another set piece near the end that is also very-well designed, and plays host to a sequence that reminded me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (in a good way!).

I’m going to make a short detour to be hideously on-brand for a moment. Those who have read my work on this site before may know that I am a trained ballroom dancer and as such will nitpick to hell any depiction of such dances on screen. There is a dance between Johnson and Gadot in the aforementioned mansion party. Their dance isn’t any one dance I know; it looks like a combination of tango and rhumba. In any case, it supports their conversation well, and I thought it was a well-done scene.

Red Notice is, ultimately, a silly action movie, but it is a well-made silly action movie. Nothing in its marketing will convince you that it is anything more than that, and frankly it didn’t need to do more than that. I needed Red Notice to entertain me for two hours and it did so very well. May it do the same for you.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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