Where do you draw the line between one movie being a homage to another, to it simply being a complete rip-off of the very thing it is attempting to pay tribute to?
Well, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Skyscraper “, “Central Intelligence”) straddles that line, some of you may think he dances on one side or the other, with his latest Netflix movie, Red Notice.
Red Notice stars Dwayne ‘The (former) Rock’ Johnson (“Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle”, “Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw”) as John Harley, an FBI profiler on the hunt for the world’s greatest art thief, and the second best.
Ryan Reynolds (“Free Guy”, “6 Underground”) is Nolan Booth, one of the aforementioned art thieves, the best or second best, is the bone of some contention. For the title he’s up against The Bishop, Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman 1984”, “Justice League”), a woman who pulls a lot of strings from behind the scenes.
Caught between this trio is Interpol Inspector Urvashi Das, Ritu Arya (“The Umbrella Academy (TV)”, “Doctors (TV)”), who is trying to figure out who’s telling the truth, who isn’t and who she needs to arrest. In the end, she marks them all with a Red Notice, Interpol’s version of the FBI’s most wanted list.
The premise is that there are three golden eggs, linked to Cleopatra, the whereabouts of two are known, the third has always been a mystery. A price of $300 million is waiting for the person who can bring them all to a rich guy who wants to give them to his daughter, named Cleopatra, for a wedding gift.
A series of events see Johnson and Reynolds have to team up to go up against Gadot to be the first to get the three eggs. But, not everything is as it seems, and not everyone is who they say they are.
The ‘homage’ comes in the form of the Indiana Jones franchise: We have Nazi gold, in a bunker that looks very familiar, an old convertible Mercedes, that also looks familiar, a chase sequence in an underground tunnel, not on rails, but in cars, that looks more than familiar.
The chase sequence even has the same punch sound effect as the Indiana Jones franchise, listen out for it, particularly when Johnson is turning the tables on the Interpol guard whilst the Merc hurtles through the tunnels. I believe there’s even a Wilhelm Scream or two, which is also in the Indiana Jones franchise, thrown in for good measure.
The reason I say this is a homage, rather than an outright copy, is because as Reynold and Johnson first enter the underground Nazi bunker, Reynold’s begins whistling the Indiana Jones theme tune.
There’s also Thurber putting Johnson in a jungle with black, fingerless gloves, looking rather like his character from the Jumanji franchise, though that’s probably just Johnson’s thing now, he does produce Red Notice after all.
Beyond this, much like Netflix’s 6 Underground before it, Red Notice features a copious amount of product placement, cars and both Johnson’s own tequila and Reynolds own gin, and some very familiar aerial shots in the opening sequence.
It’s a globe-trotting adventure too, as the trio are seen in a variety of locations across the world that are in no way sets, nope, don’t even think that, definitely not sets, nope, no sets here…it’s nearly all sets.
Despite all this, or perhaps because of all this, Red Notice does work. This is mainly down to Reynolds and his motormouth. His snappy one-liners, against Johnson’s continued seriousness, is a laugh-out-loud delight.
To say he carries it, as some have suggested, may be taking it too far, but this would have been a very different movie had Reynolds not been cast and it is definitely all the better with him in it.
It’s a fun movie, an adventure movie that borrows heavily from adventure movies that have gone before it, not just Indiana Jones, but it’s up to you how you take that. It is also left wide open for a sequel, or two.
12th November 2021
Rawson Marshall Thurber
Rawson Marshall Thurber
THE QUICK SELL
Interpol chase Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson across the globe in a case of art theft, mistaken identity and lies.