Second, the thieves must be basically good people. Yes, they're breaking the law, but they're not really hurting anyone. Hapless guards may succumb to knockout gas or find themselves locked in a now-empty vault after being outwitted by our clever protagonists, but no one is seriously or permanently injured. They're just having fun and using their great skills to get rich quickly and proceed to their life of ease that precedes the closing credits.
And most of all, there must be some surprising twist that no one saw coming -- in fact, no one even saw that no one saw it coming and this unanticipated twist can send the audience home happy if it's pulled off and rolling their eyes if it isn't.
The Netflix offering Red Notice, featuring what should be a power trio of Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, overlooks several of these important points and thus winds up with an audience that may ask itself, "Why did I watch that?" Johnson is John Hartley, a by-the-book FBI profiler who helps Interpol nab the skilled thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) until skilled thief Sarah Blake (Gadot) plants evidence for Interpol that Hartley is not an FBI agent at all and gets him thrown into the same Russian prison as Booth. They escape, and Hartley realizes that in order to clear his name, he's going to have to help Booth steal the second of three golden eggs made as presents for Cleopatra so he can turn it over to Interpol. Blake keeps complicating things and eventually the trio must find the third, long lost egg, in order to achieve their individual goals.
The three leads have good chemistry. Johnson and Reynolds are essentially playing themselves and Gadot shows she can pitch in with the quips as well as either of them. But fun dialogue and likable leads only go so far, and Red Notice winds up frequently funny without being at all fun -- the cast is having a heck of a time, but it all stays onscreen and doesn't make the move to the viewer. The set pieces are all predictable -- Johnson will win his with brute strength, Reynolds with slick patter and misdirection and Gadot with smoking hottery diverting the opponent before kicking his butt. And there's too many of them; Red Notice is a nearly two-hour movie that should have been a half-hour to 40 minutes less.
Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber, a co-producer along with Johnson, has said that sequels are possible -- but Red Notice in some ways already feels like a sequel. If you're a fan of '80s movies, imagine watching Jewel on the Nile before Romancing the Stone and you'll have a pretty good sense of what it's like seeing Red Notice.