A red notice is the highest global alert that Interpol can issue and two rival art thieves, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) and The Bishop (Gal Gadot), are red noticed enough to bring the FBI’s top profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) to Europe to work with Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya). What follows in writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s lightweight romp, “Red Notice,” is a charming tale of cons and double-crosses and witty quips that relies heavily on the easy chemistry between its three stars.
Going into the world premiere I was annoyed by the lack of premiere vibes for the group I was in. Just from the promotional poster dress that Gadot wore, I was betting that there’d be a tango. There was a tango and despite the tame tango and how the evening began, I enjoyed the film. Tango one star. Film three stars.
The setup for “Red Notice” is that the love between the ill-fated Anthony and Cleopatra was adorned by an exchange of expensive presents and in this case, all that glitters was gold: Three enormous gold and bejeweled eggs. (Metalsmiths and 3D techs will be amused by the visualized construction of a golden egg.) The eggs were discovered in 1907 by archeologists, but the eggs were separated creating more excitement than any moment on the Great British Bake-off.
The location of two of the eggs is known. The first is in a museum exhibit in Rome. The second is in a private collection. The third is lost, or is it?
Hartley is telling the inspector that his contact, The Bishop (aka Sarah Black), has informed him that Nolan Booth, the second best art thief, will be stealing the egg. They charge into a museum where the inspector warns Hartley that he has no jurisdiction in Europe so “no American cowboy stuff,” but luckily, Harley has left his chaps at home.
Why is The Bishop ratting on Nolan? Is there no honor amongst thieves? Hartley has used his profiling skills to understand that Nolan, the son of a Swiss cop, is always trying to prove he is worthy of his father’s love. It’s not the money, but the notoriety that he craves. Hartley is the opposite: His father was a con man and he learned how to read people like a Kindle.
Once in the museum, Hartley shows that the egg has already been stolen but Hartley discovers Nolan is still in the museum and gives chase. Hartley almost captures Nolan, but Nolan escapes. A few months later, Nolan is returning to his beautiful beachfront Bali home only find Hartley waiting for him. Hartley might not have authority in Bali, but Interpol does. The inspector and her squad of masked goons are there, but just why does her team have their faces obscured with masks? The inspector and Hartley take Nolan back to Europe, but both Hartley and Nolan end up imprisoned: The inspector can’t verify Hartley’s credentials when a call to the FBI informs her there is no Hartley.
The inspector has a sense of humor: Hartley becomes roomies with Nolan in a Russian prison on top of a steep icy mountain. The two men soon learn they were brought together by The Bishop who arranged to have the inspector’s call intercepted in order to place Hartley with Nolan. Determined to clear his name, Hartley is forced to team up with Nolan to escape, steal the two eggs and capture The Bishop. Why doesn’t the number one art thief need the number two art thief at all? Nolan knows the location of the third egg. She’s betting that Nolan will bond with Hartley and Hartley will be his weak point.
There will be more globetrotting, a tango between The Rock and The Bishop. Like “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” there is a fight scene involving scaffolding. Gal Gadot will fight The Rock in heels and a sexy red dress. The fight scenes will focus on the size and strategy differentials between Johnson’s Hartley and Reynold’s Nolan.
This is a slightly over-the-top action comedy film that doesn’t mean to wow you with the stunts or the acting or the CGI, but simply to amuse with charming rascals involved an affable yarn about high-living art thieves. Sure, if you stole my art or my dog, I’d be angry, but this is a film that isn’t tethered to reality. Less in the tradition of the 1955 “To Catch a Thief,” and more in the direction of the 1963 “The Pink Panther.” There’s no bumbling clueless inspector, but rather a quartet of competent characters each trying to out-do each other for credit, credentials or a cache.
“Red Notice” opens today, 5 November 2021 in theaters and on Netflix on 12 November 2021.
*There are no mid-credits or post credits scenes but a small voice over by Gadot at the end of the credits.