Will The Rock’s Red One be the worst Christmas movie ever?

Estimated read time 4 min read

Red One, the upcoming Christmas movie from Amazon, is arguably among the most talked-about of the year. However, until now, the conversation has had little to do with the film itself. Instead, Red One looks set to go down in history as the film that tanked Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s reputation.

For the newcomers: in April, The Wrap ran a feature about exactly how troubled Red One’s production allegedly was, with several insiders pointing to The Rock’s chronic unwillingness to work as a key factor. Among claims of his wrongdoing, The Rock was accused of repeatedly showing up eight hours late to set, and also making his assistant dispose of bottles of his own urine that he’d fill when he couldn’t be bothered to walk to a bathroom.

As a result, not only was Red One’s release date pushed back from 2023 to this year, but its budget also spiralled out of control. According to The Wrap, the film cost a total of $250m to produce. This means that it is not only likely to be the most expensive movie ever made by Amazon, but also the most expensive Christmas movie. For reference, you could take Red One’s budget and use it to make 10 Die Hards, 14 Home Alones or two and a half Fred Clauses.

Of course, none of the backstage drama will matter a jot if the film turns out well. But the bad news is that Red One’s trailer has just dropped – and that is looking less and less likely by the second.

The premise of Red One is that Santa Claus (here played by an extremely ripped JK Simmons) goes missing and has to be rescued by the unlikely double act of Chris Evans and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Evans annoys Johnson because he’s on the naughty list. Johnson annoys Evans because he won’t let Evans have full penetrative sex with a life-sized Wonder Woman figurine. It’s classic odd couple stuff.

Watch the Red One trailer, though, and you’ll be left with the sense that you’re basically watching mush. The kind of goofy, weightless action mush that streamers regularly finance and then forget about. Red One has the same lack of heft as Netflix’s The Gray Man, which Evans starred in just two years ago. It has the same empty, forgettable action beats as Red Notice, the Netflix film that Johnson made one year before that. Want a scene where one character sets out on the premise of the movie, and then a character says “Wait, are you saying …” and then repeats the premise of the movie? Want a scene where a character windmills his arms and legs as he jumps an unnaturally high distance towards a huge baddie in slow motion? Then this looks like the film for you.

To watch the Red One trailer is to sense that it doesn’t actually promise a film, just a wad of damp wadding to stuff a hole in a forgotten submenu next to The Tomorrow War until the end of time. And that would be fine in itself – God knows the streamers are perfectly capable of churning out endless cheap made-for-TV movies like a spluttery sausage machine gone bad – had Red One not cost more to make than both Matrix sequels combined. For that money, people deserve quality – and that looks to be in short supply here.

But maybe there’s a hint – just a hint – that Red One signals a bright new turning point in the career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After all, this is the man who memorably stipulated in his Fast and Furious contract that nobody was ever allowed to beat his character in a fight. In that franchise, it meant a lot of action scenes had to end in a series of explicable draws. But watch the Red One trailer all the way to the end and you’ll see something quietly significant: a moment where The Rock is slapped to the ground by a CGI Krampus.

This is unprecedented. Perhaps the reputational knock that The Rock suffered on the set of Red One has lent him a newfound sense of equanimity and grace. Perhaps he is finally secure enough in his sense of self that he is finally able to allow himself to be beaten up by an animated festive figure onscreen. If that’s true, it could open a whole new chapter for The Rock. Then again, we have only seen the trailer, so there’s every chance that the Krampus fight turns into an elaborate yet tedious 15-minute punch-up that nobody is definitively allowed to win or lose. Still, fingers crossed.

Source: theguardian.com

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