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The Problem with Netflix's 'Red Notice'

Welcome to Ryan Reynold's world. Dwyane Johnson, Gal Gadot and us are just living in it. Is he acting? I think he is, it's just the question of it's believable anymore.

Red Notice (2021)

3 / 5
2.5 / 5

Welcome to Ryan Reynolds’s Cinematic Universe.

Red Notice follows a criminal profiler to the FBI, Special Agent Hartley, played by Dwayne Johnson, assigned to assist Interpol in investigating the potential theft of one of three bejeweled eggs gifted to Cleopatra by Marcus Antonius. International Art Thief, Nolan Booth, played by Ryan Reynolds, will steal the egg. Hartley, with the help of Interpol, goes to stop him after being tipped off by Booth’s main competition, Sarah Black, also known as “The Bishop” played by Gal Gadot.

Red Notice felt like too much. It had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing his thing, Ryan Reynolds doing his Ryan Reynoldsness, and Gal Gadot hanging by a thread. It led me to ponder why watching this movie was unbearable. This movie felt like a waste of time and not a fun waste of time. It felt like every film before Deadpool was practice for Deadpool, and everything after was Deadpool masquerading as Ryan Reynolds.

Think about 6 Underground, Free Guy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard 1 & 2. All these films feel like Ryan Reynolds has forgotten how to act. He has flattened any kind of depth in these characters. It all sort of comes to a head in Red Notice. It felt like at every turn; he didn’t believe the words coming out of his mouth. A fourth wall is broken, but this time the person is poking fun at you, the viewer, instead of making the joke with you. Dwayne Johnson isn’t off the hook. However, Dwayne genuinely acted as though he’d tried to understand the motivations of his character. I just couldn’t buy into Ryan’s performance. Gal Gadot was having fun and chasing her bag. I find no fault with her performance.


Red Notice felt like another film that is grasping at the trend of movie stardom, driving cis straight men and their obsession with Reynolds into the theatre. A theory made popular by Tik Tok: If a man rates Ryan Reynolds an 8 or higher, he’s painfully straight, and if he rates him lower than a 6, he’s queer or gay. The middle is where bisexuals live. Ryan Reynolds essentially functions as a y/n. His life is aspirational, his wife dreamy, his manner of speech charming. None of which is copyable. Chris Pratt can attest to that. If his words weren’t coming out of his mouth, they’d be mean. His confidence, cadence, and charm are a part of his persona.

It’s very much like what happened to Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise. The masks of who they are and who they’re supposed to act like go together so well, making all the films into their own cinematic universe. A question I raise then is, are those films bad or good? I believe they exist on a scale. Passable is the word I’m looking for. Should movies be passable? Every film is saying something, so what does it mean when you can’t find it?

I know he can act. I’ve watched Foolproof. Do I sound like a Ryan Reynolds hater? Maybe. Am I? No way! I enjoy his work, even Green Lantern, and that was seriously unwatchable, and that’s not mean. Ryan even agrees. There is no fault here. This was a decent heist film that set up all the characters in an easily digestible way, which helped move the plot forward. The twists reveal new things about each character. They have done it clumsily, but I will tune in to watch the second installment of this series.

While I derived no joy from the film, you might, and I urge you to try. Fly free, my friends.

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