November 04, 2021
Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot and a spectacularly annoying Ryan Reynolds quip, steal and double-cross in a disposable, and ludicrously expensive, action comedy
Red Notice review – Netflix’s biggest film to date offers little reward
One of the supposed beauties of Netflix, and all other streamers with access to such vast resources, is that without the panicked need for box office success, there’s a certain freedom that’s then afforded. The risks that might be deemed too precarious in the global marketplace (Too original? Too adult? Too gay?) are no longer of such prioritised concern and thus big budgets can be allocated to biggish bets. It’s why Netflix was confident to take on Martin Scorsese’s $160m crime saga The Irishman after Paramount deemed it too expensive and why the streamer also spent $70m to kick off the Old Guard franchise with a diverse cast and a central, uncensored queer romance. Both paid off (the films rank among the streamer’s most-watched) and showed that a brave new world away from the safe repetition of homogeneous superheroes, remakes and superhero remakes might be possible.
So with the arrival of Red Notice, a film that allegedly cost upwards of $200m, making it Netflix’s biggest budget to date, one might hope for something slightly out of the ordinary, a much-needed tweak on what a traditional studio might otherwise lazily offer. But what makes the film so maddening, along with many, many other reasons, is that it’s the most boringly indistinctive patchwork Job we’ve seen for a long while, a beige piece of committee-approved product that slums from point A to point B to who cares. Like an increasing number of the streamer’s mass-market offerings, the overriding message appears to be: see, we can make films just as badly as everyone else! So much for the great disruptor …
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