Breezy banter papers over the cracks of this free-floating caper

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FILM
RED NOTICE ★★½
117 minutes, rated M, in cinemas

To describe Red Notice as a whole lot of nothing could be understood as praise, up to a point. By design, there are no ideas worth mentioning in Rawson Michael Thurber’s strenuously breezy caper, with Ryan Reynolds as a jabbering jewel thief and Dwayne Johnson as the Interpol agent on his trail.

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

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

Or is Johnson the thief and Reynolds the representative of the law? It could go either way, given that clearly there are going to be twists. In any event, the pair end up joining forces and jetting round the world in search of ancient treasure – specifically, a set of matching “golden eggs” which Antony once gave to Cleopatra, or so we’re told.

Their busy schedule includes a stint in a Russian prison, a spot of bullfighting, a visit to a hidden Nazi vault in South America, and much more. The shifting backdrops make little difference to their touring double act, which also differs little from routines these actors have gone through with other partners elsewhere.

Reynolds gives his latest version of the super-ironic performance he’s been giving more or less continuously for the last five years – baring his teeth, widening his eyes in mock-innocence and slipping into an anxious falsetto to deliver his endless one-liners, which often aren’t too far in spirit from old-style gay panic jokes.

Johnson keeps up his end of the banter equation, though he’s mainly confined to playing Reynolds’ impatient foil: this isn’t one of the inventive comic performances he can sometimes come up with out of nowhere, as he did in Central Intelligence, another collaboration with Thurber from a few years back.

The third wheel is Gal Gadot, who sashays in and out of the story as a glamorous rival jewel thief who’s usually a couple of steps ahead of the guys. Like the other stars, she’s here to have fun, and appears to be succeeding: even when the material is weak, she has the knack of setting herself at a distance while cheerfully playing along.

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Thurber doesn’t have an especially distinctive eye and he isn’t interested in creating a fully imagined world, even of the most fanciful kind. It’s rarely made clear how the characters get from one exotic location to the next, much less how they live their lives when not having breakneck adventures.

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