So far this year, we've seen the comedic duo of Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in action/comedy The Nice Guys. Now, we have the comedic duo of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson in the action/comedy Central Intelligence. Here's my review of it (finally!)...

Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) was a high-school hero. Beloved by everyone and voted most likely to succeed in 1996, his life isn't quite as great as he hoped it would be 20 years on. However, when a familiar face from his past, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) - formerly known as Robbie Wierdicht, who was shamed and embarrased by his peers and rescued by Joyner back in 96 - appears (now in shape haivng changed a lot) and asks Calvin to help him, the accountant, in a desparate attempt to relive the glory of his old days and his former self, agrees. In doing so, he gets himself entangled in a big conspiracy mess upon discovering that Stone is actually now a CIA agent and, together, the pair must locate and stop 'The Black Badger' a mysterious person selling something with the capability of doing a lot of damage to the free world. Although, when CIA Agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) warns Calvin that Bob is dangerous and in fact a "rogue agent", he is not quite sure just who to trust and what to do and so follows a feature-film of espionage, action, things going awry and just loads of crazy antics and shenanigans.

Dwayne Johnson is one of the most likable actors working today and a huge action star; his mere attachment to projects generates excitement. Then, you have Kevin Hart who is a hilarious, naturally gifted comedian. They seem like such oddball opposites that their pairing shouldn't work. Yet, it does. In fact, it's these two actors that make Central Intelligence as good as it is. However, even then, with such tour de force actors on-board, and comedic director Rawson Marshall Thurber, of We're The Millers fame, at the helm, this should be a killer comedy. So, it's disappointing to say that it's merely decent - all the brownie points the film does get are thanks to its charismatic leads, without whom this would fall flat - and the pair making the film "as good as it is" isn't much of an accolade. The film is a fairly stock, paint-by-numbers action-comedy and doesn't bring anything new to the table, nor does it really execute the formula with much gusto or oomph to keep it a par above the rest - something, for example, James Wan did well with the horror trope of the jump scare in the recent The Conjuring 2.

As far as the screenplay goes, the jokes are never gut-busting and the trailer did give most of the good ones away but there's certainly plenty to keep you chuckling and smiling throughout. Again, this is partially due to the great relationship between Johnson and Hart, who have such brilliant chemistry and dynamic with one another. Surprisingly (refreshingly, even), it's the former who takes the belly-share of the laughs, with the latter playing more of a subdued, comidically reserved character than we're used to seeing from him. The pair riff of one another so well and it's a blast to watch - both actors bring such heart, warmth and charisma to the proceedings and it really adds some levity to the proceedings and the otherwise fairly average screenplay. The action is fine too, it's well-helmed and entertaining to watch. However, the premise does get too over-complicated and convoluted for its own good and this is where the film falters most. The characters and the jokes are fine but the narrative is messy and just frustratingly complex, and it takes away from the humour and the audience's investment in the comedy and the proceedings.

A movie I mentioned at the very start of the review was Shane Black's The Nice Guys. Considering the two opened so close to one another, and have so many similarities to one another too (they're both comedies about a dysnfunctional pair trying to solve a mystery of some sort; one is badass and tough, the other isn't), it's hard not to compare them. Aside from the fact that both films have great, charismatic leads, Central Intellience falls short everywhere else, from the story to the action and even the comedy. Central Intelligence is certainly a competent, fun film for what it's worth - the jokes and action are decent - and Johnson and Hart really do crush it and work some serious on-screen magic together but it's probably more worth your time watching The Nice Guys, seeing as this one's pretty disposable and forgettable too.

VERDICT:
Central Intelligence is a competent, paint-by-numbers action-comedy, made as decent and fun as it is because of the brilliant pairing and charisma of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson and their great chemistry.

 

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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