Review – Cliché: The Movie (“Red Notice”)

What do you get when you have Deadpool, Wonder Woman, and the future Black Adam all in one movie that is a generic cop-buddy film? Yup, you get a trope-filled, cliché-riddled, action-adventure comedy starring three top-billed superheroes from other franchises. Oy!!

In this lightning-paced cop-buddy film that steals from every film from Oceans 11 to the Indiana Jones franchise, it begins with a requisite McGuffin of some eggs. Three incredibly rare and priceless Egyptian eggs from Cleopatra’s time which are sought after all over the world. The first is in a Rome museum, the second is housed in a super-tight private vault in the home of wealthy drug lord, Sotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos), the third. . . well, nobody really knows where the third one is. And it seems that the two best art thieves in the world want these eggs, and that’s where intrepid Interpol Inspector Das (Ritu Arya) and Special FBI Profiler John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) come into play. They manage to foil the first egg robbery in Rome by capturing the wise-cracking master thief, Nolan Booth. (Ryan Reynolds).

But, in a twist (and there’s a lot of them!), John is framed for the egg theft and subsequent money transfer, getting sent to a Russian prison along with Nolan. They both get a shock when they find out the prison’s warden is the notorious art thief, Sarah Black, aka The Bishop (Gal Gadot), the one who framed John and got them both locked up! She’s planned a major heist of the second egg and needs her competition out of the way. Deciding to bury the hatchet, Nolan and John team up, escape, and try to steal the second egg at Sotto Voce’s elaborate party (shades of True Lies). However, things go south and the boys are outsmarted by Sarah. Again!

On the run, Nolan reveals a hidden secret: he knows the location of the long-lost third egg and offers a deal to John, and in a finale straight out of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, the third act gives us a chase, fight, and an open-ended conclusion that screams “SEQUEL!” One thing is for sure, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence, Skyscraper) isn’t giving us anything new whatsoever, so WHY is this movie so damn fun? Two words: the cast. While Thurber has crafted the most clichéd-riddled, over-used plot in movie-dom, his fast-paced, comedic direction barely gives you time to breathe as the action never stops. They’re stunts galore, fights, utterly ridiculous shoot-outs with bad guys who trained at the Stormtroopers School of Bad Shooting (no one ever gets shot or killed!), and laughably HUGE plot holes.

But, I laughed a lot. Why? The constant banter between Johnson & Reynolds was worth it all. Now, I know that Reynolds and his signature  Deadpool rat-a-tat-tat motormouth is an acquired taste, but put in the right situation and with the right partner, he’s hilarious. This movie is pure popcorn, turn-off-your-mind nonsense, and is just plain silly, but it’s also a helluva lotta fun, boasts some great scenes with Gadot, nice stunt work, beautiful location shooting in Italy, Bali, Spain, etc., and does not take itself seriously. You can see clearly the cast are all having a ball, especially Reynolds who shamelessly hawks his Aviation Gin in one scene!

**Now in limited theatrical release and streaming on Netflix

48 Hours (1982)

In one of the great cop/buddy movies, in order to catch a criminal, you have to employ a criminal, and in this classic 80’s film, SNL’s Eddie Murphy made his movie debut which launched his meteoric film debut. Directed by the great Walter Hill and a terrific script, you couldn’t go wrong.

Credited as the very first “cop-buddy” movie (although there are others that pre-date this film), we start off with some murders.  Straight out of a scene from Cool Hand Luke, a prison gang is working on a road when a tall Native American man named Billy Bear (Sonny Landham) gets into a fake fistfight with convict Albert Ganz (James Remar). Billy and Ganz trick the guards who try to break up the fight and kill them all, fleeing to safety Later, Ganz and Billy kill Henry Wong (John Hauk), their associate, prompting San Fransicso police inspector Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) to track them down to a local hotel, but things so very south and Cates’ partners get killed.

The only way to find Ganz & Billy Bear again is to spring their incarcerated former partner, Reggie Hammond (Murphy), for 48 hours. Needless to say, these two do NOT get along. But Reggie proves his strength when he poses as a cop at a redneck dive called Torchy’s. Reggie confesses that he, Ganz, Billy Bear, Wong, and a guy named Luther (David Patrick Kelley) had robbed a drug dealer of $500,000 and stashed the cash in the trunk of Reggie’s car in a downtown parking garage. Now, Ganz and Billy have taken Luther’s girlfriend, Rosalie (Kerry Sherman) in exchange for the money.

There are car chases, shoot-outs, fist-fights, name-calling, mistaken identities, Reggie desperately wanting to have sex, and Cates having major troubles with his girlfriend (Annette O’Toole). In the end, Reggie has to go back to prison, but has earned (kinda) the respect of Cates who is going to keep his secret stash of cash waiting for him for when he gets out. . . or at least until they make Another 48 Hours in 1990.  Having a motion picture starring a fledgling actor/comedian straight from SNL who had never acted before on-screen was a risky move, but Murphy not only proved himself worthy, but continued to star in a string of blockbuster hits in the 80’s that cemented his stardom.

Written by director Hill, Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies), Larry Gross (Streets of Fire), and Steven E. deSouza (Commando, Die Hard), this had all the earmarks of a hit movie all around. The script was tight, fun, violent, and filled with Murphy & Nolte’s constant bickering that would make all future cop-buddy movies something to aspire to. Aside from their terrific on-screen chemistry, director Hill was no stranger to action filmmaking, having done such iconic movies like The Warriors, Streets of Fire–one of my favorites films, and Red Heat). For you trivia fans, the original script called for Clint Eastwood and Richard Pryor to star as the cop & prisoner! Wow! How different a movie THAT would have been!

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