The last year has been a tricky time for movie productions, whether undergoing daily Covid tests or delaying filming due to outbreaks of the virus among the cast and crew, and for Red Notice, the Dwayne Johnson Netflix thriller, it also meant that a number of big action set pieces had to be completely reworked. Speaking in a new interview with Deadline, writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber talked about how one of the biggest sequences in the movie had to be revamped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and when the stunt in question originally involved on location filming of a car chase in Italy, the complete shutdown in March 2020 was felt fully by the production.
“We faced a number of challenges, the pandemic, of course, being No. 1,” Rawson Marshall Thurber said, “and when we shut down we were halfway through shooting, almost to the day and about two weeks from going to Italy to shoot this opening car chase, which had been scouted and prepped. Then the world shut down, which ultimately led to us leading to us to shutting down production. It was a long six months of not knowing anything…”
Production on Red Notice, one of the most expensive Netflix movies to date, was only just into its second month of filming when the shutdown happened, and like many movies in production at the time, the question of when and if they would resume was one that took some time to resolve. When production on Red Notice finally continued in September 2020, there were a lot of new health and safety measures put in place, many of which have continued to be in force until the last couple of month in most countries.
Thurber explained that the remaining 45 days of filming was spent in isolation when not working on the set. “That was the real challenge, being away from my family, completely isolated and go through my six-day work week.” He also had to “re-write the opening car chase to fit our new reality.”
The opening sequence was meant to be a huge car chase through Italy, with Johnson’s John Hartley, the FBI profiler who joins forces with Ryan Reynolds’ art thief Nolan Booth to catch Gal Gadot’s Sarah Black, also known as The Bishop, but according to Thurber, the change in rules around the pandemic was the reason that John is prevented from participating in that car chase as he is crashed into by another character. “That’s exactly why we did it that way, and I actually think it ended working out better for the movie,” he added.
While they managed to make it to the end of filming, and Dwayne Johnson has been vocal about how happy he is with the movie, as he is with everything he is part of, the Covid shutdown will seem like child’s play in comparison to running the gauntlet of the critics, who have already taken down the movie with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 44% and a consensus that the “big budget and A-list cast add up to a slickly competent action comedy whose gaudy ingredients only make the middling result more disappointing.” Red Notice makes its Netflix debut on November 12th. This news originated at CBR.