Central Intelligence Review

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What do you get when you get one of the funniest men alive and one of the most charismatic men alive and put them in the same movie together? What you get is a buddy cop film called Central Intelligence, starring funny man Kevin Hart and the charismatic Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But is Central Intelligence a worthy enough film to showcase the talents of Hart and Johnson?

You bet it is, but at the same time, Central Intelligence is a really flawed. The film is an outrageously hilarious film with a lot of heart (not to be confused with Hart), but it also tries to do more than it’s comfortable with doing.

Central Intelligence follows Calvin Joyner, a mild-mannered accountant who was the most popular kid in high school. When an evil prank is played on Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), Joyner was the only one who was there to help. 20 years later, Stone reunites with Joyner in an innocent meet-up at a bar. Little does Calvin know that he is about to be lured into the world of international espionage.

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The screenwriting team of Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, and Rawson Marshall Thurber created a story that valiantly tries to be more than your conventional buddy cop film, but the two predictable storylines they wrote don’t quite pair up well. The film attempts to play with the audience by questioning Stone’s intentions and at the same time trying to garner sympathy for him. These storylines begin to contradict each other. How can we feel sorry for a man who we might not even trust? Luckily for the screenwriters, Dwayne Johnson is such a likable, charismatic guy that the audience is more inclined to trust him rather than not. Because what the script does well is play off of the bullied backstory of Bob Stone. It’s the type of story that relates to many and the screenwriters know that Johnson is the perfect man to represent those who are oppressed.

But don’t worry, the film doesn’t linger too long on its more serious aspects. Central Intelligence goes for laughs a majority of the time and succeeds far more than it doesn’t. Thurber knows exactly what they have in his stars and exploits them for the benefit of the film. Johnson and Hart are a great team and the chemistry between them is palpable. There’s something about that odd couple, buddy cop motif that works time and time again.

Central Intelligence shows a mellower side of Kevin Hart. There are instances where his motor-mouth persona is on display but Hart is at his best when playing off of Johnson’s earnest craziness. That doesn’t make him any less funny as Hart delivers the verbal jokes in the film, while his co-star handles the more of the physical comedy. But it’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that’s the real driving force behind the film. He is a charismatic actor and is likable even in his blandest of roles. It’s not surprising that he has such a talent for physical comedy — something that he probably learned during his WWE days. Yet as funny as Johnson is, he’s able to portray his Bob Stone as a damaged character. Truth be told, it’s kind of refreshing to see Johnson play a role where he’s socially awkward and emotionally scarred. He does have to work on that comedic timing, though.

Hart and Johnson are supported by a capable ensemble of recognizable faces, including Amy Ryan (“The Office”), Danielle Nicolet (“Family Tools”), and Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”). Sadly, the supporting cast has been dealt with severely underwritten parts. Their performances are fine but they are only in the film to serve a singular purpose. Amy Ryan’s character is a one-dimensional character that moves the film along. Although Danielle Nicolet’s character is the most developed out of the three, her character is only there as Kevin Hart’s love interest. Aaron Paul is nothing but a glorified cameo and is never really an integral part of the film.

Overall, Central Intelligence is a highly flawed but hilarious film showcasing the various talents of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. The film allows its stars to shine, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and packs plenty of laughs into its 107-minute runtime. With Johnson and Hart set to re-team on the Jumanji remake, I guess it’s time to say hello to the “Rock and Hart” connection.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

About author

Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1185 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.