A BUDDY ACTION COMEDY THAT’S GOT A LITTLE HART, A BIG JOHNSON, ACTION, AND LOADED WITH LAUGHS...AND THEN THEY RELOAD IT!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B- (3 stars)
WARNER BROS. PICTURES, NEW LINE CINEMA, AND UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart ready to kick butt in Central Intelligence
When I first saw the trailer for Central Intelligence, the latest comedy from director, Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, We’re the Millers), I thought the team-up was absolutely brilliant, the massive, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, Fast & Furious franchise) and the stubby, quirky, Kevin Hart (Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, Grudge Match, Ride Along 1 and 2) together in a buddy action comedy, that sounded awesome, but the humor they were showing in the trailer had me a little concerned. This is a perfect comedic team-up and the humor didn’t sound the kind of humor I would expect from a Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart collaboration, Dwayne seemed more big on brawn but short on brain, it didn’t look terrible or anything but I wasn’t fully convinced yet.
Thankfully when I sat down and watched the film, I was pleasantly surprised, turns out the film made me laugh harder than expected. Do I consider it a staple for comedy? No, do all the jokes get a big laugh? No, but a majority do and I’m so relieved that it made me laugh as much as I did.
In fact, I may like this movie more than Marshall Thurber’s previous directed comedy, We’re the Millers, which was an okay comedy, but nothing special. This movie had me hooked from beginning to end, I was thrilled, shocked, and laughed hysterically all the way through.
In high school, chubby geek, Robbie Weirdicht has been picked on, bullied, and pranked, even to the point where the cool kids dragged him out to the gym in the middle of an assembly butt naked. So obviously he was mocked and everyone in the school erupted with laughter, all except for the former “Big Man on Campus”, Calvin Joyner (Hart).
Twenty years later, Robbie grows up, loses 200 pounds, and changes his name to Bob Stone (Johnson) who meets up with Calvin, who is now an accountant, one night and they catch up on old times. However, Calvin learns that Bob is Robbie, and is now a lethal CIA agent who came back to his hometown to attend their high school reunion.
Claiming to be on a top-secret mission, Bob enlists the help of Calvin and the two of them enter a world of shoot-out, double-crosses, and espionages that can get them both killed in more ways than they can imagine.
The film also stars Amy Ryan (Capote, Gone Baby Gone, Bridge of Spies) as Agent Pamela Harris, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Triple 9, Eye in the Sky) as Phil, Danielle Nicolet (Family Matters, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Bernie Mac Show) as Calvin’s wife, Maggie Joyner, and Thomas John Smith (The Blacklist, The Judge, The Equalizer) as Agent Nick Cooper.
Overall, Central Intelligence is a laugh out loud riot, but what truly makes the film so hilarious is the strong chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, they are a perfect team-up for an action comedy like this. In my opinion this is the kind of movie Ride Along promised to be, but wasn’t, which is a shame because Hart also had strong chemistry with Ice Cube in that movie.
Fortunately, the film managed to team up two very talented people and put them in hilarious situations and action sequences, and it’s thoroughly funny. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very dumb, screwball comedy, but the likability of the characters and even lots of satires of old cop movie clichés make it come full circle and possibly make it more intelligent than what the posters and trailers show.
What really impressed me about the film was not only was it funny all the way through, but it also had a gripping mystery, and it even squeezed in some touching moments and drama. I know right, a Dwayne Johnson/Kevin Hart buddy action comedy is gripping, touching, and dramatic, but none of it changes the film’s identity, it knew exactly what it wanted to be.
If you love buddy cop movies and shows and want to see a really funny satire of those types of film clichés, you’ll enjoy Central Intelligence. Don’t expect the film to step into much new territory but it adds plenty of comedic takes on old clichés and a likable duo.