Stars unable to carry lackluster "Red Notice"

Ryan Reynolds (from left), Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson appear in a scene from “Red Notice.”

On paper, “Red Notice” would seem like a slam dunk.

It’s a globe-trotting action film that teams up Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Yet even that star power can’t save the bland, cookie-cutter script – a story full of so many clichés and tropes it could have easily been plucked from a mass-produced assembly line.

“Red Notice” begins with a hot-shot art thief named Nolan Booth (Reynolds) trying to steal one of three valuable bejeweled eggs traced back to Cleopatra. Booth’s heist is thwarted by FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson).

After capturing Booth, Hartley is framed by another prominent art thief known only as the Bishop (Gadot), forcing the profiler to team up with Booth. The reluctant pair set out on a journey across the world to clear Hartley’s name and stop the Bishop from collecting all three eggs – and a huge payday from a potential investor.

“Red Notice” was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who previously worked with Johnson on “Skyscraper” and “Central Intelligence.” Like those two films, “Red Notice” follows pretty much the same formula – letting Johnson mix quips with punches in a rather light-hearted manner.

Having Johnson team with fellow wisecracker Reynolds would seem like the perfect match, but the chemistry between the two leads never quite clicks the way it should. It feels at times like the actors are just competing to try and one up each other.

Gadot does add a little spice to everything, but at times her character is presented as an afterthought with a lot of “Red Notice” unfolding like a more family friendly version of Ryan’s previous work in the “Hitman’s Bodyguard” films.

The action sequences are rather lackluster and the script is even worse – full of long character speeches that have no real purpose other than advancing the narrative. It all builds to a couple of twists that are supposed to be fun, but are really both kind of blah (and predictable) – leading to more long speeches to spell out everything for the audience.

Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot try really hard to make this mess work. In the end, though, even their star power can’t distract from this garbage dump of a script.

The three stars – and the audience – deserve better.

Recommended for you