Published November 16, 2021, 10:09 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

‘Red Notice’

The two films today are bolstered by Hollywood star power. One is the latest from Tom Hanks, an earnest but ultimately soft, heart-warming futuristic movie; while the second can boast of being the most expensive Netflix production to date, and nothing much else, despite the presence of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot.


Finch (AppleTV+) – In Castaway, Tom Hanks proved he could carry a major portion of a film without anyone to act with – or on this case, a Wilson volleyball. Here, in Finch, a post-apocalyptic drama, he’s at least afforded a dog (a rescue named Seamus, who acts like a pro), and an android. The android can talk, so there is, at the least, a speaking part that Hanks, as Finch, can interact with. So think Castaway mashed up with WALL-E, and throw in a dog plus a road trek that yields danger and imminent catastrophe, and you have the premise of this film. We open with a scorched, ravaged Earth, and Finch is one of the last survivors. Early on, we’re given the foreshadowing of how Finch is seriously sick, and what drives him to upgrade his android is how he wants to make certain someone (or something) will take care of Goodyear, his dog.

The touches made, to endear us to Finch, are diverse. On his own, he sings along to American Pie while rummaging through an abandoned supermarket. His relationship with Goodyear is one any dog, or animal, lover will relate and understand. His tinkering with AI will strike a chord with the geeks and nerds of the world. Plus, it’s a grizzled Tom Hanks. If anything, you’ll wonder why much more wasn’t made of the screenplay, and why we don’t go deeper into this survival story and the race against mortality – as was the case, in The Martian. A more gentle end-of-the-world scenario would be hard to find; and you’ll be forgiven for saying it’s Hanks that carries much more than the weight of this film and making it a qualified success.

‘Red Notice’

Red Notice (Netflix USA) – Reported to be the most expensive Netflix production to date at $200 million, you have to wonder where all the money went after the talent fees of its three big stars, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds. Because, sure, it streaked to #1 on the Most Watched list of this streaming giant, but while there’s nothing really wrong with the finished product, there’s also nothing really right – and I’ll be wondering if people even remember what they’ve watched as soon as the end credits start rolling. With $200 M to spend, you’d think they come up with a coherent and involving screenplay, and not just rely on a derivative exposition of past roles the two male stars have portrayed, and challenging Gadot to do something different but offering no guidance or direction of any kind, so she’s left wooden and uninspired.

Sure, there’s a gist of a plot having to to do with the search of Cleopatra’s 3rd egg (& already you have something that sounds like a half-baked joke). But what follows is pure stretching and allowing the actors to just riff on what we know they do best. Reynolds wisecracks, but it’s all Deadpool Lite; while Johnson tries to play straight man to Reynolds’ jokes. Gadot, as I mentioned, is still pretty to look at, but you’ll wince at her delivery, and her futile attempts to match up with the two in their bromance film. And do you notice how the action sequences require that nobody really gets hurt or dies – so that Reynolds character remains ‘thief with a heart of gold’. Unrealistic to the max, but there you got. Waste of money & time, but as it’s reached #1, guess they all know better than us reviewers.