Red Notice (2021)

rednoteThere’s two ways of considering this film, and its rather like a Rorschach test for film fans. Either you see it as a harmless bit of mindless, leave-your-brain-in-the-kitchen bit of fun to while away a Friday night via Netflix, or you see it as an annoyingly typical, horribly insulting waste of $200 million that only further exemplifies the current state of the entertainment industry and film as an artform. 

Where do you think I sit on either side of that fence? Have a guess.

Somehow this stupid film cost more than Villeneuve’s Dune? How is this even possible? Well, maybe a lot of that has to do with the three stars allegedly each pocketing an absurd $20 million, that’s $60 million gone straight away. Hey, score one for diversity, at least the girl has gotten paid as much as the boys, and as far as screen-time is goes, she’s actually gotten paid more than them as regards a dollar-per-minute ratio is concerned, so hey, go girl. But none of the three is actually making any effort in this- its almost a distressingly cynical effort from all concerned (does effort go out the window whenever one learns that Netflix is footing the bill? Or was this picture actually destined to be a normal theatrical release at one point?). Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson plays Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman sorry Gal Gadot. There’s no acting in this. Mind you, in their defence, its possibly true there’s no characterisation actually fleshed out in the script which any of them could have worked with, but all the same, they are phoning all this in in the grandest Bruce Willis tradition. They turn up, look gorgeous, speak their lines, and move on. The attention to craft of someone like, say, Robert De Niro when he appeared in Taxi Driver or Raging Bull etc seems like a lifetime away. 

It exemplifies all the very worse of Netflix. The platform does some good stuff, as does Amazon etc but really, if Netflix finances/buys this kind of rubbish simply to compete with the big boys or pretend its a player like any of the Hollywood major studios, its missing the point of playing the game. Or maybe it isn’t, maybe I’m fooling myself. Netflix’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t really care how good anything it puts up streaming on its service actually is (a second season of Another Life is proof enough of that), it just cares about subscriber numbers. And the brutal truth about subscriber numbers is that, as Disney is possibly learning, they don’t actually have anything to do with the quality of what you are streaming, its more about just having new content streaming and the perception of the service having a steady flow of something new to watch on a Friday night.

In my depressed moments, I’m resigned to the fact that as far as the mass average of Joe Public that is Out There in suburbia, nobody actually cares whether something is any good or not. None of this stuff is even going to be remembered in five or ten years time, and hell, at some point probably the streamers will start pulling content because what is the point having it there hidden away behind all the algorithm’s of the service front end if only two or three people watch any of it, never mind all of it, during January 20th 2027? Films are disposable, just like streaming music and television shows etc. its all a passing distraction for people numbed by the banality/pressures of life in the 21st Century. 

What any of this has to do with Red Notice, I’m not sure. Or maybe it has EVERYTHING to do with Red Notice. In any case, I’ve wasted far too much time writing about this nonsense already. I only wish I’d bought that 4K box of the Indiana Jones films, I’d love to be able to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark tonight in glorious 4K to remind myself of the good old days when even a fairly modest love letter to simple b-movie matinees of old could turn into a classic for the ages. Films like Red Notice may pretend to be ‘homages’ to adventure flicks like Raiders but really, they are kidding themselves, they are nothing like. Raiders is 40 years old now and still a film I love to re-watch; who on Earth will be re-watching Red Notice in 40 years time? Who will even remember it exists?

8 thoughts on “Red Notice (2021)

  1. This kind of middle-of-the-road poor-imitation-of-better-films has always existed, it’s just history has taught the studios that if they fork out for the big names and glamorous locations, that’s good enough for most people — the stars hook ’em, the glamour makes it look swish, and the overfamiliar & effort-free plot and characters tickle the memories of the stuff it’s ripping off in a way that leaves people broadly entertained.

    And by “people”, I do include myself, because I fully intend to watch this and I wager there’s a better than 50/50 chance I’ll like it well enough. I don’t imagine I’ll be watching it again in four years, though, never mind 40.

    1. Yeah it was probably a stretch, and unfair of me, to compare it to Raiders, but its obviously indebted to the Indy films. I also think, if you’re fortunate enough to be making a movie, you should always try to make something genuinely good, indeed good enough to be remembered in 40 years. If not, why not? Especially with $200 million on the table. Jeez. The films John Carpenter could make with that dosh.

  2. It’s a 50-50 chance I will watch this, not on my own accord, but if my husband or kids suggest it to me I will. It’s obvious the leads weren’t trying hard.

  3. Tom

    . . . I would have to think that if the story in this movie were worth a damn at all, you would at least give it some credit where it’s due there. Apparently there’s not much redeeming about Red Notice, which actually does piss me off because in my eyes, those three actors often serve up a good time. I’m an apologist for mainstream movies but christ almighty I do feel you on the effort front on some fo them.

    The independent film scene is where you’ll find some good stuff. I’m trying to keep a closer eye on Sundance Labs and some of the writing coming out of those places. Which might necessarily imply illegal bootlegging and/or massive trips out to some banished indie theater, falling apart in all its decrepitude.

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