Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul
Running Time: 107 minutes
Release Date: July 1st
Central Intelligence is the latest in a quickly expanding series of films that see Kevin Hart teamed up with someone reasonably comical so that he can talk about being black, be easily coerced, and make the Kevin Hart face.
You know the one.
Here, the team up results from ex-popular kid Kevin Hart being tracked down by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s once fat, socially inept Robbie Weirdicht, who has grown up to become CIA agent Bob Stone. It seems odd to criticise a film for being cast well, but Hart and Johnson stand out clearly as the only strength of the movie.
At first this is a positive: The Rock is at his most charming here, and his performance is as committed as ever, with the added twist that his CIA agent was once an incredible dork, and in many ways still is. He loves unicorns, wears a bumbag (fannypack to them) and never really got over the time he was thrown out into the school auditorium, fat and naked, in front of everyone, despite now looking like The Rock. Also, Kevin Hart never plays too much into his own tropes and, as the straight man to The Rock’s comedic foil, actually does quite well.
Just about everything Johnson does in the film is highly entertaining. At one point, he wears Hart’s spare pyjamas, having tricked him into an impromptu sleepover. They are really small on him. And it’s great. It’s hard not to wonder, when the leads are so naturally entertaining, if anyone saw any point behind writing an actual movie here.
Central Intelligence proves that The Rock playing a dork is endearing no matter what, and Kevin Hart is essentially just marginally toning down his usual shtick, so what is the script doing? The jokes reach no particular high, and the strength in casting, complete with great supporting actors and satisfying cameos, seems to prove that this would be a much lesser film with anyone else in it. The plot is cookie cutter cop comedy, with double crossing and a standoff at the end. Other than some intrigue in terms of who the bad guy is, it brings very little new to a table recently enriched by comedy buddy movies like the Jump Street films, The Other Guys, and to some extent, other Kevin Hart outings.
Central Intelligence basically guarantees entertainment, and while the plot is thin, it’s cast well enough to be worth it. But, if you really want a comedy buddy movie this week, maybe only check this out if you’ve already seen The Nice Guys.