Dir: Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2016
Dwayne Johnson A.K.A. The Rock is a rare action star. He can do action AND comedy. And at the same time.
Johnson is an amiable celebrity. Very likeable.
A natural comedian he’s adept at juxtaposing his macho physique with campness or surprise characteristics.
Johnson is Robbie Wheirdicht, an overweight high schooler ridiculed and embarrassed by his peers.
After a particularly nasty joke where he is thrown naked into the gym with the whole school watching, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) helps him by covering his modesty.
Twenty years later, Calvin is an underappreciated office accountant worker. Calvin was voted most likely to succeed.
With the high school reunion coming up, Calvin is adamant that he isn’t going to go, disappointed at how his life has turned out.
On Facebook, Joyner accepts a friend request from a Bob Stone and an invitation to meet up. On meeting, he his shocked that the erstwhile Robbie Wheirdicht is, now, a huge, muscular, giant of man without an ounce of fat on him. Stone’s prowess at fighting impresses Joyner.
Stone asks Calvin for help with his accounts which alerts the CIA to his presence. Stone works for the CIA, trying to apprehend a rogue agent called “Black Badger”.
With the CIA intent on arresting Stone for a murder he didn’t commit, Stone races across America, dodging bullets and fighting his way out of trouble with an incredibly reluctant Joyner being towed along.
The plot is nothing special. It’s quite unoriginal. The whole fish out of water and way out of his depth, strangely, reminds me of Ride Along. Or Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.
The humour is very low brow. Johnson’s machismo is counterbalanced by his un-coolness. He says things that are so not cool and raises eyebrows. The character has a faint smattering of homosexuality and this is played strongly for laughs.
Thankfully, Hart is not his usual self. I tend to find him annoying. He isn’t funny. American comedians have a habit of thinking that louder is better.
What I find confusing about black American comedians is why they have to mention their race at any opportunity to get a laugh. Hart’s character doesn’t break that trend.
But, on a positive note, he can be quite funny in this. Irritating at times, amusing in others. It’s a role that anyone could have taken and isn’t specifically tailored to Hart.
Only The Rock could have made this film. Johnson has a unique ability at self-deprecation. He will do anything if it get’s a laugh. And all praise to him.Comedy and action very rarely work and Schwarzenegger and Stallone have both tried with varying degrees of success, all very little.
As far as the plot goes it predictable. There are no surprises in this at all. All the way through you’ll be able to guess what’s going to happen next. But that doesn’t matter. It’s the comedy that matters and it wins hands down.
The film tries to be clever with its double crossings and plot twists but fails. It’s just too obvious. To be fair, films of this nature are difficult to execute. You always run the risk of the audience knowing what’s ahead. Few films are able to pull it off.
At 100 minutes plus Central Intelligence doesn’t outstay its welcome but could have done with being trimmed a little.
The title is so ironic as it’s the last thing you need while you’re watching this.
Overall, I had a really fun time. Like a lot of popcorn movies, it’s all just a matter of disengaging your brain and going along for the ride.