The film, which drops on Netflix on Friday, captures the spirit of the "Uncharted" video game series — itself a spiritual successor to "Indiana Jones" flicks — better than a direct adaptation could. It links up Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot for a globe-skipping treasure hunt, breezy action scenes and double-crosses — all with a constant stream of witty dialogue.
Even better, the characters and no-brakes momentum of the plot always make you feel as though you're in on the scams, gags and gasps, riding right along with the anti-heroes as they scheme and connive their way to riches, glory and cheap put-downs of one another.
A caper action comedy in the vein of "Romancing the Stone" or "Midnight Run," the film prioritizes fun and breezy humor over such trifles as logic or reason.
Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber ("DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story") ties together the loose threads of a barely-connected plot with visual splendor and continuous repartee, and a self-absorbed cuteness that engages the audience rather than distancing itself.
Everyone in the movie is fully aware that they are in a movie, that the movie is a good one, and that you're watching. Bulging with self-aware humor — Reynolds identifies thugs as "featured extras" at one point — the movie is so meta that it's practically parodying itself.
Reynolds plays notorious thief Nolan Booth, who finds himself on the run with lawman John Hartley (Johnson). The lithe, devil-may-care Booth and grounded, gritty Hartley form a fragile bond that evolves into a grudging mutual respect as the plot slips and slides along. Flittering in and out of the proceedings is the Bishop (Gadot), a dime novel femme fatale who walks into every room fully aware she's got everyone wrapped around her bouncy locks.
The film thrives on the Reynolds-Johnson connection, with the pair swapping locker-room insults with an easy whismy that can't be faked. You get the feeling that as good as the dialogue is, there was even better banter in between scenes.
Silly, solipsistic and self-absorbed, "Red Notice" might have come off as smug if it wasn't so much fun. The cinematic equivalent of driving with your window rolled down while chugging a Red Bull, it's worth bumping all the way to the top of your queue.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.