CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Directed by: – Rawson Marshall Thurber

Produced by: – Michael Fottrell, Peter Principato, Scott Stuber, Paul Young

Starring: – Dwayne Johnson, Kevin hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet, Timothy John Smith, Megan Park, Ryan Hansen, Thomas Kretschmann, Kumali Nanjiani
Run time: – 114 minutes (1hr 54mins)
 
 
Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson
 
 
Over the course of cinema’s history, we’ve seen great comedy duos like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Key and Peele, Seth Rogen and James Franco, Laurel and Hardy capture our hearts and kill us with laughter. 
 
So it was no surprise that the scribes of Hollywood would create a comedy team starring Dwayne Johnson and the Kevin Hart, two of the hottest stars at the moment.  Dwayne  “The Rock” Johnson, a former WWE wrestler turned into actor is now known as Hollywood’s hardest working man and is also known as ‘Franchise Viagra’ as he saved the G.I. JOE franchise and more importantly the Fast and Furious series from stagnation.  He has also proved himself to be quite the funny man who can carry films and bring home a big box office. The other half of the puzzle is the short and fast-talking Kevin Hart, a stand-up comedian who is now taking the movie industry by a storm with his incredible work rate and likability. Quoting Chris Rock from his now legendary 2016 Academy Awards Speech “Kev makes movies fast. Every month. Porno stars don’t make movies that fast.” When the two were brought together to star in an action-comedy in the guise of Central Intelligence, I was licking my lips in anticipation, as I believe this team-up is a great recipe for a five star meal.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have got great chemistry.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have got great chemistry.

The story commences with a flashback going back 20 years, where we see an overweight Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) who is enjoying a shower getting bullied by his fellow classmates and is subsequently humiliated after they throw him naked in front of the whole school. Everyone explodes with laughter bar Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), the big name on campus, who many believe is destined to achieve greatness feels sorry for Robbie and assists him.
 
The plot then moves to the present and the tables have turned as Robbie who has changed his name to Bob Stone has now become a beast who won’t look lost in a wrestling match and has become a deadly CIA agent.  Calvin on the other hand never lived up to his potential and has found himself stuck as an unhappy accountant who dreams of the glory days. Bob reaches out to Calvin via Facebook as he needs the  fast-talking accountants skills to help him save the world. Thanks to a simple catch-up, chaos and hilarity ensues as Calvin is now dragged into the world of international espionage. With that in mind can Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart comedic chemistry create a comedy classic under the direction Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers & Dodge: A True Underdog Story)? Lets take a look at the positives and negatives.
 
 
Try and guess who is the straight man and the loose cannon.

Try and guess who is the straight man and the loose cannon.

PROS
 
  • It is really refreshing to see Kevin Hart break his own conventions in this movie. For once he plays the straight man and allows Dwayne Johnson to be the loose cannon. This is good because a common criticism that Kevin Hart usually receives in most movies he appears in is that he essentially plays himself as the guy with a big mouth, who talks a lot and makes the odd joke or two about his height. For those who actually like Kevin Hart modus operandi don’t be disheartened, its still there especially when he is not sharing screen time with Dwayne. Fortunately his classic tropes are kept to a bare minimum and I think his humour becomes more effective as a result.
  •  Dwayne Johnson’s character, Bob Stone is the more intriguing character of the team.  Bob is a very nerdy character who references old-school films like Twelve Candles. He has bad fashion sense as he carries a fanny pack and wears weird T-shirts. He is also effeminate with his love of unicorns and has emotional baggage and an extreme hatred for bullies.  Along with these traits he is also a highly efficient field operative which, makes Bob a layered character, something you don’t get in a lot of comedies. This as a result means that Dwayne Johnson not only acts as the man who gets to do most of the action he also gets to flex his comedic muscles and for the most part he succeeds in this right.
  •  An issue I had with the last action-comedy I reviewed, Keanu is that it didn’t really blend its action and comedy elements very well. I’m happy to report that Central Intelligence does a better job. The action scenes especially the car chases, and the shootouts are decent and are well choreographed unfortunately the blemish in the action sequences is that the close quarters combat isn’t anywhere near as impressive and really looks standard thanks to some irritating shaky and blurry camera work.
  • The message of the film is one that hits home with me. The film tries to show the effect of what bullying can do to an individual’s psyche and it also tries to tell viewers that no matter where you are, its important for one to appreciate their blessings and be happy with who you are. Though the problem the movie has relaying this message is that its execution is clichéd.
  •  Comedies like this live or die based on the chemistry of the films stars. Fortunately Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart are great duo as they bounce of each other extremely well and act as a great comedic foil to each other. Their chemistry is this films trump card because it actually makes me forget about the substandard script and makes the viewer wished that they focused on it more.  You can really feel that they enjoyed working together and it’s clearly evident in the blooper reel at the films conclusion. Word on the grapevine is that they are planning more collaborations and this movie has certainly got me interested in what they can offer.
The plot and the supporting characters are a bit weak.

The plot and the supporting characters are a bit weak.

 

CONS
 
  • Dwayne Johnson’s character can be a bit intense at times. So much so that he becomes a bit annoying at certain points of the film. I’ll give credit where its due if that’s what he set out to achieve, then he succeeded but otherwise it’s a stain on an interesting character.
  • Other than Danielle Nicolet who plays Calvin’s high school sweet heart and wife Maggie and a cheeky cameo from Jason Bateman, the supporting characters are forgettable. Even Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame doesn’t get enough time to show us why he we love him so much. A point that a lot of films featuring comedy duos are missing nowadays, while two people can carry a whole movie the supporting characters should also pull their weight so that the movie can reach classic status.
  • The espionage element had the perfect opportunity to add captivating thrills with the film questioning whether Bob can be trusted or whether he is only reaching out to Calvin to make ends meet and the mystery behind the villainous Black Badger who wants to take over the world. These elements could have acted as a great parody to Spy thrillers, however it never gets to do that which as a result makes the plot unnecessarily convoluted.
  • A lot of jokes miss the mark, as they aren’t chuckle worthy. I will admit the movie made me laugh a few times but the laughs are so far and few between.
  •  I mentioned earlier that the movie tries to address the issue about bullying however it’s a bit confused about the message. One of the running jokes of the film is Bob being obese, the film expects the crowd to laugh at Dwayne Johnson wearing a fat suit and rocking a premed Afro and at the same time feel bad about it. I personally believe the movie can’t have it both ways.
You will never be able to remove this image from your mind.

You will never be able to remove this image from your mind.

Central Intelligence on paper should have been a great action-comedy with a good moral if it was executed with deadly accuracy, however this movie misses the target and only grazes it thanks to the movie’s trump card, Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s chemistry. Their on-screen bromance demonstrates that they can carry a movie when its other elements don’t work. Don’t spend your hard-earned cash seeing this in the cinema.

 
 
RATING: – WATCH ON TV 

Category: Hollywood, Reviews
Olisa Nwokedi
About The Author
- Olisa is an Aberystwyth University law graduate and Fordham University School of Law Masters graduate who was admitted into the Nigerian Bar in July 2016. He enjoys playing and watching rugby, writing, watching movies, playing video-games and Shark wrestling.......... that last part was fiction.