The Maximum MacGuffin of Red Notice

It works, as long as you don’t take your movie watching any more seriously than Red Notice takes itself. Which, thankfully, it never does.

Andrew Donaldson

--

Promotional image for Red Notice (Netflix/Seven Bucks Productions/Bad Version, Inc.)

There is a movie being self-aware, and then there is Ryan Reynolds whistling The Raiders March while traipsing through a storehouse of Nazi loot to set up the line “Look for the one labeled MacGuffin” to further the plot. Thus is the undercurrent of Red Notice on Netflix.

But it works. It works as long as you don’t take your movie watching any more seriously than Red Notice takes itself. Thankfully, it never does.

The truth is the plot points are just an excuse to get Ryan Reynolds to play Ryan Reynolds opposite Dwayne Johnson, who aptly plays up being Dwayne Johnson, with the perfect counterpoint of Gal Godot who was brilliantly cast to fill the Gal Godot role. And a good time is had by all. Critics will hate it, and fans will love it and feel well served. There are some very funny moments, some great action sequences, and the whole movie is very well made technically speaking. The three stars have all worked together in various combinations before and it shows, as they all fit together in their roles of playing to type. It’s a lot of star power wattage. As long as you don’t look at the edges of the spectacle to much, this critical mass of big ticket talent manages to provide power without going all cinematic Chernobyl.

What keeps that from happening is the winks, nods, and almost relentless reminders both in dialogue and plot by the writers and movie makers to let the audience know that they know that this would all be ridiculous if we didn’t all want it to work and kept the levity percolating along just enough to keep this brew from turning bitter. So we forgive the plot points and narrative swerves that come off like a greatest hits of better movies if taken on their own as serious cinema. And we can laugh along at Renyolds being his action-comedy best cranked to 11 to keep the Rock’s stoic action hero balanced and let Gadot sizzle and smart her way between and around them. Therefore, things that would be cringe and dealbreakers in a movie that was taking itself too serious only get an eye roll or a chuckle of “I knew it” before sticking around to watch…

--

--

Andrew Donaldson

Writer. Mountaineer diaspora. Veteran. Managing Editor @ordinarytimemag on culture & politics, food writing @yonderandhome, Host @heardtellshow & other media