Netflix’s latest hit, the action-comedy Red Notice, is more than another Ryan Reynolds vehicle. The film’s other two leads — Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot — have the kind of star power to headline a blockbuster alone. The three combine their efforts to help realize director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s rapid-fire creation, packing it with references to countless familiar films — including some of the cast’s other recent hits.
‘Red Notice’ was a big-budget bet by Netflix
Red Notice is a massive hit for Netflix. Its success wasn’t a sure thing in the pandemic motion picture space, which has viewers flocking to or almost completely ignoring new releases of all kinds. Whether it was Halloween Kills doing big business in theaters despite a simultaneous streaming release, or a seemingly surefire superhero cornerstone like The Suicide Squad bombing badly, there was no guarantee Red Notice would get enough eyeballs.
That makes the bills underpinning the whole thing that much more impressive. Reynolds, Gadot, and Johnson took home a cool $20 million each for their work. Thurber collected $10 million himself for directing. The $200 million total budget was a risk that needed to pay off quickly, which the film appears to have pulled off for the streaming giant.
‘Red Notice’ is packed with nods to other Hollywood blockbusters
Part of the formula for success — beyond the big-name cast — was the approach of the fast-paced film. Though the plot is distinctly not about the movies, the constant jokes and references recall memorable moments from other films, including callbacks to the Indiana Jones series. We’ve picked a few of the best bits from the IMDb community:
- In the opening chase scene, Reynolds drops in with the iconic Marvel “superhero landing,” as seen in his other franchise, Deadpool.
- The chase scene in the mines seems uncannily familiar. That’s because it combines elements from chases in the first three Indiana Jones films.
- In the vault, a crate is marked, “Top Secret Army Intel 9906753 Do Not Open.” That’s the number on the crate holding the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- Reynolds steers a boat with the phrase “We’re gonna make it, Rose” printed on the side. You guessed it: a nod to Titanic.
- The bullfighting scene is an homage to the 1953 Bugs Bunny cartoon “Bully for Bugs.”
- Gadot sings Petula Clark’s “Downtown,” leading to a joking reference to the Wonder Woman star’s widely panned “Imagine” video in real life.
Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, and Dwayne Johnson have a habit of working together
The three actors have an easy rapport that helps sell all of the above scenes. It probably helps that they have worked with each other before in varying configurations. It’s no wonder Netflix was willing to essentially pay for three headlining leads for a single movie — the streaming platform expected the investment to pay off.
Johnson and Gadot, in particular, have worked together many times. She had a stint in the Fast & Furious franchise, appearing alongside Johnson in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7 from 2011 to 2015. Johnson has since moved to the Fast spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw.
Speaking of Hobbs & Shaw, Reynolds worked with Johnson in that film. Johnson returned the favor by appearing in the recent Reynolds headliner Free Guy. The pair had a good time reuniting on set, including some laughs over Johnson’s inability to fit into a Porsche for a planned chase scene.
Reynolds also worked with Gadot once before. The pair chewed the scenery in the sci-fi espionage thriller Criminal. The two are on opposite sides of the Marvel/DC divide in their Deadpool and Wonder Woman franchises, but both will likely work together again — perhaps in a sequel to the successful Red Notice.