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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Red Notice (2021)

A movie with a few beloved stars, a simple enough premise and it was trending number 1 on Netflix for a while. We have three nerds weighing in! Does Red Notice survive the ratings?

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerd-o-sphere.  This week, Patrick, Rey and Dave reviews Netflix’s new action heist film Red Notice!

  • The Flick:  Red Notice
  • What’s it About:  An art thief hunted by INTERPOL and an FBI agent trying to clear his name team up to steal three artifacts known as Cleopatra’s Eggs. On their heels is an INTERPOL agent looking to bring them down. Standing in their way, another thief known as the Bishop who intends to steal the eggs for herself.
  • Metacritic Score: 39

The Nerds’ Take on Red Notice (2021):

Rey: In the latest edition of “Which police officer will The Rock play today”, I get to talk to you about Netflix’s new smash hit Red Notice!  Now, when I say smash hit, normally that’s a generic term.  With Red Notice, however, that term is as appropriate as possible.  This movie has been announced to have the biggest opening day in Netflix film history.  Think about the movies that entails.  So if nothing else, this is an ultimately successful movie that we’ve been tasked to review.

Clearly, as a wrestling fan, I love The Rock.  That goes without saying, but the additions of the amazing Gal Gadot and the hilarious Ryan Reynolds were extremely intriguing, so I was looking forward to seeing the possibilities that this movie could reach.  The premise of this movie is that The Rock is an FBI criminal profiler specializing in art crimes and he’s been paired with Interpol agent Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) to track down the theft of the three golden bejeweled eggs of Cleopatra, given to her as a wedding gift by her husband Mark Antony.  As we start the movie, we immediately get an idea of how well versed Rock is in his field as he figures out that the egg on display in the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome is a fake.  This is when you first see Ryan Reynolds as super art thief Nolan Booth.  There is an extremely fun and clever chase sequence that leads with Reynolds getting away, and the movie is off.

As Reynolds gets back to his home in Bali, Rock and Interpol Agent Das are there waiting there to arrest him when Rock gives us a glimpse of his ability to profile.  He breaks down everything about Reynolds’ psyche right before they take him away.  As they’re putting him and the egg in two separate SWAT vehicles, we’re introduced to Gal Gadot’s super art thief “The Bishop”.  She steals the egg and replaces it with a fake and slips away.

For the rest of the crux of the movie, Gadot gets Rock arrested and puts Rock and Reynolds through multiple planned scenarios to try and get the other two eggs.  Rock and Reynolds end up having to team with each other in a team of convenience, which neither seems to want comedically marred by hijinks aplenty.  Rock is trying to prove his innocence by getting back the original egg and arresting Gadot, and Reynolds wants to prove that he’s the best art thief in the world by beating Gadot and getting the egg.  Soon, once Gadot has two of the eggs, we realize that only Reynolds knows where the third egg is.  After sending Gadot on a false chase, he and Rock go to the correct location while coming to a legitimate partnership.  The third egg was owned by Hitler’s antiquities dealer and was locked and stored in a secret bunker in the jungles of Argentina.  Rock and Reynolds accidentally end up finding it and of course, are followed by not only Gadot but Interpol Agent Das and her team.  One more major chase sequence sees Gadot, Rock, and Reynolds work together to escape the Interpol agents and get out of the bunker safe and free.

This is where the movie takes a massive turn.  As Reynolds is trying to find Rock, he shows that he cares about him more than the egg, and in turn, is blindsided by the fact that Rock and Gadot were together the whole time!  The two are a couple, and Rock was playing a long con to get Reynolds to give them the location of the final egg.  As they leave Reynolds locked up on the beach, they go to Egypt to sell the three eggs to a rich billionaire buyer who wanted the eggs to give to his daughter as a birthday gift.  Interpol breaks up the party, hilariously cameoed by Ed Sheeran, and Rock and Gadot sneak away.  Finally, we see the pair on a yacht celebrating their long con and successful financial heist as Reynolds shows up on the boat.  He explains to them that he worked with Agent Das to freeze their Cayman Islands account where they hid the money they made.  He also offers them a deal to do one more heist as a trio, which the pair begrudgingly accepts.  The final scenes of the movie show Agent Das giving all three “red notices,” which is an Interpol notice of the most dangerous and on the run criminals (also where the name of the came from), and the trio walks towards the Louvre in Paris to begin the next heist.

This is, by no stretch of the imagination, a mind blowing movie.  Is not meant to be though.  What this movie is in spades is fun.  Throughout the whole time, the comedy of Reynolds, the suffering of Rock, and the clever front running of Gadot keeps you entertained the entire time.  The trio have impeccable chemistry, especially Rock and Reynolds, and the plot is just interesting enough to earn your interest.  The final twist at the end will surprise you if you allow yourself to fully immerse in the film, but even if you don’t, you’ll still enjoy the ride.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and while it’s not the plot of the year, I will always reward fun and enjoyment just as much.  I give it a 4 out of 5.

Rey’s Rating: 4.0/5.0

Dave: After two weeks of very heavy, world building, thought provoking movies, this week’s assignment is at the other end of the spectrum. Red Notice is not heavy on the plot or the details…. but it is a very fun, action-packed, romp starring three of the biggest stars in Hollywood today.

The plot of the movie is pretty basic and anything but ground-breaking. Two millennia ago, Marc Antony gifted Cleopatra three jeweled eggs as a wedding gift. The eggs were lost over time. Two of them had been located; the location of the third egg was a mystery. The movie begins with Special Agent John Hartley teaming up with Interpol agent Das to prevent the theft of one of the eggs from a museum in Rome. Renowned art-thief, Nolan Booth, is able to steal the egg, briefly, before Hartley discovers the egg on display is a phony. The first of many chase sequences in the movie takes place. Hartley apprehends Booth at his home in Bali. Booth is taken into custody. But, Booth’s main rival, The Bishop, is able to steal the egg and sets up Hartley as the fall guy. Das sends Hartley and Booth to a prison in Russia. The two adversaries decide to work together to escape from the prison and prevent The Bishop from acquiring the second egg. Another grand chase sequence transpires but the guys escape and end up at a masquerade gala held by Sotto Voce. Voce has the second egg locked in a vault. This leads to an Oceans 11 type of vault heist…. only to discover that The Bishop found a different way into the vault. We get an awesome fight scene between The Bishop, Hartley, and Booth that ends with Hartley and Booth being held captive by The Bishop and Voce.

It turns out that Booth knows the location of the third egg, something no one has known in 2,000 years. Booth saves Hartley from some brutal torture by disclosing the location of the third egg…. but not really. He explains to Hartley that the third egg is in a Nazi bunker in Argentina. Booth and Hartley head to South America to get the third egg. But The Bishop and Das are both wise to what is going on and intercept them there. That is as much as I will disclose as the movie does have a couple of pretty decent swerves at the end, even if they are a touch on the predictable side.

As I am sure Patrick will mention in his review, Red Notice does not break any new ground here. There are elements of many popular movies here. I mentioned Oceans 11 already. You have elements of The Fast & Furious mixed in with True Lies, mixed in with Raiders of the Lost Arc, combined with some Tomb Raider, and a smattering of National Treasure. It even feels a bit like the Uncharted video game series in some places. Now, that is not to say that any of that is a bad thing. Not at all. But it is not very original. Borrowing an idea or two is one thing; fashioning a movie around five to six scenes that look very similar to things we have seen before is a bit of lazy booking. Much of the movie is predictable and a bit too tropey. One swerve is completely predictable; the other not nearly as much. There is the obligatory bromance that you get in movies such as this and it attempts to balance that out by having a strong female to be the Big Bad of the movie. In most places it works but, again, nothing is shown here that you probably have not seen somewhere before.

Still, I revert to my overriding feeling about Red Notice….it is just a lot of fun. If your head was spinning after watching movies like Dune and Eternals then you will appreciate Red Notice’s simple, unapologetic, and over-the-top approach. It is, in every way, just a good, solid, adventure-based crime drama, with a lot of humor to it. So, the director did not think too far outside of the box. So what? Red Notice is not designed to take itself seriously. It is all about some pretty mindless fun and, on that front, it succeeded quite well. And make no mistake, Red Notice is very funny, which adds a lot to the entertainment value of the movie as a whole.

So, while the movie is nothing special from the standpoint of doing something unique or different, we have to talk about the cast, which is nothing short of phenomenal. It stars three of my personal favorites. First, we have Dwayne Johnson, who continues to own Hollywood. The man formerly known as The Rock continues to “bring it” as far as action movies are concerned. He is very good in Red Notice as Agent Hartley. He is a bad ass, as always, but not quite the unstoppable force that he was as Hobbs in the Fast & Furious movies. Across from him is the only man out there right now who can possibly challenge Johnson’s claim to being King of Hollywood and this is the equally charismatic Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds delivers the strongest performance of anyone in this movie. He is the comic relief here and a ton of Deadpool, albeit of a much more family-friendly variation, is injected into his portrayal of Nolan Booth. The relationship between Hartley & Booth harkens back to a similar “strained relationship turned friendship” movie involving Dwayne Johnson at the beginning of his career, 2003’s The Rundown. It is, of course, another example of a retread as Johnson and Reynolds’s portrayal is eerily similar to that of Johnson and Sean William Scott from 18 years ago (has it really been that long?). And similar to The Rundown, we have a powerful female character driving a wedge between the two men but, in the end, uniting them. In The Rundown it was Rosario Dawson; in Red Notice, it is Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot. Gadot turns in a very solid performance as The Bishop and shows a bit of range to her acting skills. Last, but not least, is Ritu Arya, who plays the relentless agent Das and does a great job along the way.

If we were basing this on cast alone, Red Notice would be a 5/5 as everyone delivers in this movie. The problem is just that they don’t have a lot of great stuff to work with. It is all quite good, but also a bit derivative. Appreciate the movie for what it is: A lot of fun, a lot of action, a lot of humor, and nothing that should be taken too seriously. If you are looking for a good movie to escape into for a couple of hours, then Red Notice will definitely leave you satisfied.

Dave’s Rating:  3.75/5.0

Patrick:  This week, we Nerds head over to Netflix to check out the most viewed debuting film in the company’s history: Red Notice. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot, the film is an international heist movie that we’ve all seen before. But hey, this one has Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot.  I will say while Red Notice is enjoyable enough, it’s really nothing special and will quickly be forgotten by audiences maybe as soon as they finish watching it. This is going to be a quicker review for me this week, as I really don’t know that there is too much to say.

The movie follows master thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) and FBI Agent John Hartley (Johnson) as they try to steal an ancient artifact known as Cleopatra’s Egg before Nolan’s rival the Bishop(Gadot) does first. Oh, Hartley is wrongly accused of being a crooked FBI Agent. He only teams with Booth to clear his name. Double Oh, they are all being pursued by INTERPOL Inspector Urvashi Das (played by Ritu Arya). The chase takes these four characters all over the globe in mix of Ocean’s 11 hijinks, an Indiana Jones and a bit of Lethal Weapon buddy cop mixed in.

Reynolds and Johnson work really well together albeit in roles we are used to seeing them portray. Reynolds is witty and cocky as Booth. Johnson plays the straight tough guy to all of Reynolds wisecracks. It’s a familiar formula and one I am sure was comfortable to the actors. But I’ve seen this move plenty of times before, and the rapport of the actors while solid, didn’t blow me away. Gadot vamps it up as the femme fatale Bishop. All in all, they’re a great deal of fun. But it’s nothing you haven’t seen these actors do before.

It’s the same with the film itself. The story is one we’ve seen dozens of times over. There are action fun action sequences, but they’re not anything unique. There are car chases. They are fun, but you’ve seen better ones in movies like The Bourne Identity. Hell, there are plot twists and guess what? They’re pretty easy to pick up. The biggest highlight for me watching Red Notice? The Easter eggs referencing other famous movies. It’s Reynolds whistling the previously mentioned Indiana Jones in a treasure vault. It’s Gal Gadot doing a Wonder Woman pose in a fist fight. I think I had more fun hunting for the winks to the audience than watching the movie itself.

Look, Red Notice is a harmless, fun little movie. There’s good chemistry among Reynolds, Johnson and Gadot and they are clearly having a good time. You could do worse with two hours than watch this movie. Unfortunately, there are so many other better films out there that do what Red Notice does. Ocean’s 11 in particular comes to mind as it has all of the elements of Red Notice with better execution. So, no Red Notice isn’t a bad movie, but it just can’t compete with the numerous movies that did the story better

Patrick’s Rating:  2.52/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Red Notice (2021): 3.42/5.0


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Bandwagon Nerds #114: Return of the Reverend

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Bandwagon Nerds
Bandwagon Nerds #114: Return of the Reverend

The Reverend Rey Cash returns to the Bandwagon just in time to discuss all of the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe news and rumors surrounding the upcoming Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, and Black Panther Films! Patrick figures out why Dave doesn’t care for The Witcher season 2 in the Bandwagon’s review of season two, episode 5.  And finally, are there problems between Disney and Pixar brewing?

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About Bandwagon Nerds

Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, PC Tunney and Rey Cash as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!

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BWN Nerds’ Review: The Book of Boba Fett – Ch. 2

After an overall luke warm start, does the second episode heat up at all for The Book of Boba Fett? Big Dave and Patrick weigh in!

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on entertainment from the Nerd-o-sphere.  This week, Patrick and Dave continue their review of the Star Wars Disney+ miniseries The Book of Boba Fett!

  • The Show:  The Book of Boba Fett Ch. 2: The Tribes of Tatooine
  • What’s it About:  Following the events in season two of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett had laid claim to Jabba the Hutt’s former criminal empire.  His rise to prominence is not met with open arms and Fett must navigate the Galaxy’s criminal underground in Tatooine.
  • IMDB Score: 8.5/10

The Nerds’ Take on The Book of Boba Fett Chapter 2:

Patrick:  Hello again, fellow Nerds. If you will recall from my previous review. I said I had some real concerns regarding where the story of The Book of Boba Fett was going.  My fears not only were not eased, they were significantly increased as the series appears to double down on the “civilized savior” trope and mobster in space story. Oh, plus we get that Boba Fett acid trip we’ve all been looking for. I don’t know if I am being too hard on this show two episodes in, but I am completely underwhelmed right now.

Episode two continues the parallel story telling established in episode one.  In the present, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand question a surviving assassin from episode one. The assassin claims they were hired by the mayor of Mos Espa. This leads Boba to barge into the Mayor, who denies involvement and claims another ordered the hit. The audience is quickly introduced to said responsible parties in the form of Jabba the Hutt’s twin siblings. We get a bit of a standoff in the streets of Mos Espa, with the Hutts laying claim to Jabba’s empire and Fett saying no. This confrontation is clearly the beginning of what I assume will be another element of intrigue for Fett to navigate.

The audience is also given more story of Boba Fett’s past. Fett is now living among his Sand People captors and learning their ways. Specifically how to use a gaffi stick. While training, the Sand People are attacked by a train loaded with advanced weapons that take advantage of the Sand People’s more primitive weapons. After the attack, Fett notices some rough characters on speeders, and devises a plan. After getting permission to pursue this plan, Fett proceeds to acquire the speeders, teach the Sand People how to use them, and lead a successful takedown of the train. The Sand People honor Fett with a ceremony involving a lizard up the nose (more on that in a bit) and Fett carving his own Gaffi stick and going full Avatar and integrating himself fully with the Sand People.

My problems with this episode rest almost completely with this second storyline. The plotline in the present, while uninspiring, is at its worst a somewhat tired trope. Like I said last week, it’s The Godfather…IN SPACE. Plus, we do get the introduction of some new characters and likely a glimpse into the larger world of the Hutts. But, this Avatar/Dances with Wolves civilized savior thing is just tired out, a little racist and completely unnecessary.  It’s not enough that Boba Fett finds a way to survive amongst these people, no, He’s their goddamned savior bringing technology to the primitives. I can emphasize enough how terrible of an idea this plotline is to me. And it’s not enough that Fett is the savior. The series leans into other native tropes in their ceremony to accept him. They put him through some hallucinogenic acid trip to help him find the branch for gaffi stick.  UGH.

CGI effects have not improved in episode two, either.  I will say the Hutts looked good as CGI characters, and maybe that’s why the train looked so terrible in this episode. They spent their budget on the huts. The train and speeders just looked like cartoons on a matte painting.  The perspective was all out of whack and the trains did look like it was moving so much it looked like it was growing on the screen. It’s just bad and there is no excuse for it.

Finally, two episodes in and I, an admitted hater of Boba Fett, think Boba Fett is being done a disservice here as a character. Boba Fett is known as the most ruthless bounty hunter in the galaxy, and the writers of this series have completely taken away everything that made him compelling. I don’t have a problem with Boba Fett having a code of some sort, but to make him stick to that code to the detriment of his success, especially when you consider he was at Jabba’s side for much of his career, makes little sense. Yes, Boba Fett should be taken advantage of for being out of his element. But, this show is setting him up to look completely naive to how the underworld works. And Boba Fett is certainly not that. I really hope this show turns around in a hurry, because if it doesn’t you’re gonna get more scores like the one I’m dropping for episode 2.

Patrick’s Rating:  1.92/5.0

Dave: Episode 2 of The Book of Boba Fett is more of a mixed bag than the first Episode. It does some things well but there are some head scratching moments as well. Similar to the first Episode, Episode 2 covers the present-day conflict involving Boba becoming the Daimio of Mos Espa and also furthers his backstory and his becoming an official member of a tribe of Tusken Raiders.

As for the present-day stuff, on the heels of an attempt on his life, Boba, Fennec, and his Gamorean guards march into The Mayor’s office to confront the being they feel is behind the assault. The Mayor denies involvement but instead deflects blame to “The Twins”. The Twins are cousins of Jabba The Hutt and they clearly feel they have a right to the throne, so to speak. Boba, basically, tells them to piss off and the stage is set for a big power struggle in the streets of Mos Espa. By far, the coolest part of any of this was the appearance of Black Krrsantan. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Star Wars comics, or the content formerly known as the Extended Universe, Black Krrsantan is a black furred Wookie bounty hunter. It is clear from the brief interaction that there is some familiarity between Boba and Black Krrsantan. That makes sense seeing as how they are both bounty hunters….at least until Boba tells The Twins he is no longer a bounty hunter. Suffice it to say we have not seen the last of this conflict. For those of us who have been long-time fans of the Star Wars comics, the appearance of Black Krrsantan is quite exciting. All I can say about him is to think of the polar opposite of Chewbacca and you will have a good idea about the personality of Black Krrsantan.

As for the flashback aspect of things, here is where things get weird. Now, I am all for further exposition of the Tuskens. They are a very misunderstood aspect of Star Wars lore. There is much more to them than Banthas, gaffe sticks, and being the beings that Anakin slaughtered “like animals” in Episode II. So, I am all on board with learning more about them. But this Episode’s story as to how Boba helps to organize the Tuskens to teach them to ride land speeders so they can stop a train traveling through what I assume is the Jundland Wastes, where it takes pot shots at Banthas and Tuskens, just seemed very odd to me. Sure, the action is kind of cool. But even that fell flat. The fight on top of the train felt like a scene from Speed, just with a lot more people involved. Then after it is all said and done, we get a very strange sequence where Boba is presented with a gift by the leader of the Tusken Tribe…. a lizard that runs up Boba’s nose and induces an acid trip like state so Boba can find a sacred piece of wood to fashion his own weapon? Yeah, it kind of lost me too. I understand that this backstory must be important as far as explaining how and why Boba has gone from bounty hunter to something more marginally more reputable. But it was still very strange.

After two Episodes, I find myself much more interested in the present-day aspects of things than I am with the Tusken flashback material. I am genuinely interested to see what happens between Boba, The Twin, Fennec, and Black Krrsantan. That being said, I would be remiss in not at least speculating some, which is what I did a lot during our review of Hawkeye. A theory gaining a lot of traction is that the organization that Boba helps the Tuskens thwart in the flashback segments is the Pyke syndicate. This is an organization that has been seen in The Clone Wars as well as Solo. The Pyke syndicate and the Hutts have something in common:  They both have worked with Crimson Dawn in the past and if Crimson Dawn is still active, this raises the possibility that Lady Qi’ra will come into the fold. Emila Clarke of Game of Thrones fame played Qi’ra in Solo and she took over control of Crimson Dawn after Darth Maul was finally killed, for good, by Obi-Wan Kenobi and…. you get the picture. It is all highly speculative, but also possible. The Book of Boba Fett feels a bit disjointed for me at this juncture…. but maybe, just maybe, we are being played here and this is, in fact, all going to tie in to Kenobi and Ahsoka. It is certainly possible.

As for this second Episode though, standing alone and based on what we know for certain right now, this felt like a step back for me. The introduction of Black Krrsantan notwithstanding, this was just a rather odd Episode that did not feel like it progressed things all that much. It was not a bad Episode at all, just a bit on the odd side, all things considered.

Dave’s Rating:  3.75/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating for Book of Boba Fett Chapter 2: 2.83/5.0


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