Hollywood stars

Hollywood star trio can’t save this empty caper movie

RED NOTICE ½
M, 117 minutes

To describe Red Notice all in all, a lot of nothing could be understood as praise, up to a point. By design, there’s no idea worth mentioning in Rawson’s energetic capers Michael Thurber, with Ryan Reynolds as gibberish jewelry thief and Dwayne Johnson as Interpol agent on his trail.

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson pose for Red Notice.Credit:Netflix

Or is Johnson the thief and Reynolds the lawman? It could go either way, given that there is clearly going to be some twists and turns. Regardless, the couple eventually join forces and travel the world in search of ancient treasure – in particular, a set of assorted “golden eggs” that Antony gave to Cleopatra, at least that’s what we are told.

Their busy schedule includes a stint in a Russian prison, a bullfighting session, a visit to a Nazi safe hidden in South America, and much more. The changing sets make little difference to their double touring number, which also differs little from the routines these actors have gone through with other partners elsewhere.

Reynolds gives his latest take on the super ironic performance he’s given more or less continuously over the past five years – showing his teeth, opening his eyes wide with false innocence and slipping into an anxious falsetto to deliver his never-ending one-liners , which are often not too far removed from the minds of old-fashioned gay panic jokes.

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Johnson maintains his end of the joke equation, though he’s mostly limited to playing Reynolds’ impatient foil: it’s not one of the inventive comedic performances he can sometimes imagine out of nowhere, as he did it in Central intelligence, another collaboration with Thurber a few years ago.

The third wheel is Gal Gadot, who walks in and out of history as a glamorous rival jewelry thief who is usually a few steps ahead of the guys. Like the other stars, she is there to have fun, and seems to succeed: even when the material is weak, she has the knack of putting herself at a distance by playing the game happily.

Thurber doesn’t have a particularly distinctive eye, and he’s not interested in creating an entirely imagined world, even the most whimsical. It is rarely explained how the characters move from one exotic location to another, let alone how they live their lives when they are not having dizzying adventures.

But there is an appeal to a cinematic universe where everything is floating and changing, the fate of the world is not at stake, and psychology is widely cited to be mocked. Granted, we have to put up with the leading men exchanging tearful stories about their respective fathers – but we can imagine how Gadot would ignore them if she ever heard them.

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