At the beginning of last winter, Netflix announced that in the near future it would release a new film from its creator every week. The streaming service also provided a taste of the produce on this occasion, and placed the greatest emphasis on what appeared to be the most attractive hit on the menu – “Red Message”. Netflix waved this action and adventure comedy, as it is a summit meeting of three of the biggest stars in the American entertainment world: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, who is not only the busiest Israeli actress in Hollywood, but one of the most prominent and hottest names in the industry right now, period.

Over the weekend, the star-studded production went up on Netflix, and so it was discovered that three pluses do not necessarily produce an electrifying effect together. It seems that the streaming service intended to use “red message” to create its own new movie series, but this is not a simple task. It’s not just Amazon that has recently invested a fortune in the intellectual property of James Bond films – it’s much easier to buy movie brands than to build them from scratch. You can take over something existing, you can invent something original of your own, and there is of course also the intermediate solution: to create an unsuccessful imitation of something successful. “Red Message” chooses this way. It starts as an “impossible mission” for the poor and then becomes “Indiana Jones” from Ali Express.

The script stretches to the limit the concept that became famous thanks to Hitchcock – the McGaffin. That is to say, some scripted tool within the internal logic of the film motivates the protagonists to action and sometimes even drives them crazy, but in fact it is completely stupid, has no importance and could just as easily be replaced by anything else. Who remembers what is being pursued in “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and in “International Conspiracies”? who cares.

This time, the McGaffin is revealed as three precious and ancient golden eggs, which roam the world thousands of years after they were originally given as a gift to Cleopatra – the same queen that Gal Gadot will soon play in a new film about her. Since “Red Post” claims to be a self-conscious comedy, it refers to the fact that it is a faint plot excuse and even directly mentions the concept of McGaffin, but self-awareness does not necessarily cover up your own hump.

Behind the camera stood Rosson Marshall Thurber, who may have previously directed the (not cynically) masterpiece “Dodgeball,” but Hitchcock is not. This is his third collaboration with Johnson, and none of them have been particularly successful. Their previous film, “Skyscraper”, was a kind of cheap and forgotten imitation of “Dead to Live”, and even in “Red Post” there is not a drop of momentum and other spirit, and it seems to have been directed by artificial intelligence, who entered codes from every movie ever made, but not They managed to instill humor, irony and brilliance in her.

Gal Gadot in “Red Post” (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

“Red Message” stands as the most expensive film in Netflix history, with a budget of $ 200 million, and it is not clear what they were wasted on, other than the salaries of the actors and actresses. Like “Skyscraper”, here too all the landscapes and backgrounds are nothing but generic and ugly computer creations, and the result looks like a computerized adventure game from the 90’s.

The script is scrambled like an omelet. It is of course difficult to get excited about the pursuit of the eggs, and it is also difficult to connect with the characters, who are a pile of clichés. Reynolds plays an art thief who runs around the world following the ancient items, and Johnson the cop who is on fire after him, and of course it turns out that they both end up running away from the exact same thing – master complexes. Into this dynamic also enters a third rib, a mystery woman played by Gadot, and seems to exist only to mark V on the “female character” slot. It has no depth and in the first place also no volume.

This week we were informed that Gadot will play the evil witch in a new adaptation of “Snow White” – the complete opposite of the role of superheroine and world savior in which she became famous in “Wonder Woman”. In “Red Message” she takes the first steps towards the dark side. Her character is not a classic villain, but certainly not a good girl in Jerusalem. Like Johnson and Reynolds, the Israeli actress also does her best with this character, but she has nothing to work with. As befits the film’s imitative character, the first scene she starred in is remarkably similar to her dramatic entry in “Batman vs. Superman,” and the continuation of her plot arc is moldy as well.

Despite Gadot’s sex appeal, the real sexual tension in the film is generally between the two men. It is quite clear that there is a homoerotic attraction between the thief and the policeman, who time and time again find themselves in intimate situations. “Red Post” even hints at this quite directly, but of course does not dare to realize the passion between the characters played by Johnson and Reynolds. After all, it is a product produced to attract wide audiences around the world, and the last thing Netflix wants is boycotts in all sorts of countries because of its content.

Even when it has sparks, the film escapes them like wildfire. In the end, it is currently revealing another low point in the dubious history of Netflix’s original films, and a rare low point in Gal Gadot’s Hollywood career, which has so far laid golden eggs. Had there been a football team, “Red Post” would have found itself deep below the red line. 

Avner Shavit is the film critic of Walla!

By Editor

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