MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Central Intelligence’ is smarter than the average action-comedy flick
It’s not often that a film features two of the most likable, hardworking entertainers in the industry. With Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart playing the headliners here, “Central Intelligence” has the charisma and charm of the two combined.
Kevin Hart has been everywhere recently. It feels like every couple months a new film featuring him is pushed out into the theaters, his stand up specials and performances get huge crowds, and the guys seems genuinely funny.
Dwayne “please don’t call me The Rock” Johnson is one of the most prolific entertainers around today. Just take a look at his IMDB page. The guy has a massive 17 upcoming projects, ranging from two more “Journey to the Center of the Earth” films to another installment in the “Fast & Furious” franchise to an animated Disney movie called “Moana” to a new “Baywatch” film with Michael Bay at the helm, along with a range of remakes, such as “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Jumanji.”
Not to mention that he’ll be playing the role of Black Atom in the upcoming “Shazam” superhero film.
Despite the usual roles these two play, “Central Intelligence” flips the script.
Kevin Hart’s character, Calvin, was the coolest guy in high school, the best athlete, voted homecoming king and, most importantly, named most likely to succeed. Johnson plays the school’s unpopular, fat, nerdy punching bag, Bob.
After a particularly horrible incident where Calvin was the only one to show any compassion to the mercilessly bullied kid, Bob vanishes, never returning to the school.
Years later, Calvin is stuck in a dead-end job, dreading the prospect of going to his 20-year high school reunion. After a mysterious Facebook friend request, Hart and Johnson are reunited and pulled into thwarting a scheme to sell nuclear codes to a villain called the Black Badger.
Pretty simple setup, right? Just an odd couple going and doing generic action movie things for an hour and a half before ending with some lesson about how friendship trumps everything.
Luckily, “Central Intelligence” shoots for more than that. Not only is the film really funny at times, but it actually makes you question the motivations of Johnson’s character.
It’s not a cut-and-dry hero and villain setup. Bob’s motivations are foggy, at best, which really throws a wrench into the typical action movie format. I found the mystery and potential twists really refreshing, keeping me interested when the comedy didn’t. It’s not something you often see in action films like this.
Now, I will say that I feel some of the comedy did fall short. For something billed as an action-comedy, I found the comedy to be lacking through certain parts of the film. It’s by no means not funny; I did find myself chuckling at many of the jokes and dialogue between characters. While it had some really funny moments, those moments were too few and far between for my liking.
The strengths here, aside from the interesting plot, are in the characters. Hart and Johnson are playing their usual charismatic selves, but with some interesting characteristics scattered in. The physical comedy element is definitely in play as well, with Johnson towering over Hart and looking easily about 100 pounds heavier.
You find yourself rooting for both characters for different reasons, and Hart and Johnson have great onscreen chemistry.
Despite some issues with the comedy, I found “Central Intelligence” to be really entertaining. The refreshing plot elements, likability of the characters, and smattering of jokes were more than enough to keep me interested throughout.
It’s not a film that will challenge you, but it’s an entertaining way to burn two extra hours.