Central Intelligence

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart team up for the latest buddy cop film in this weekend’s Central Intelligence,a  film that has many similarities to other films of this ilk.  However, there are two big things that take this from typical fare to an entertaining movie: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart.

Johnson and Hart are fantastic together, sharing an effortless charisma and chemistry, making what is truly an average film around them something better than it ever hoped to be.

Bob (Dwayne Johnson) was a loser in high school, a fat kid who was bullied and laughed at by most of the student body.  Calvin (Kevin Hart) was the big man on campus, the homecoming king, the sport stud, the dramatic actor, dating the most beautiful girl in school… he had everything.

One day near the end of their senior year, a group of bullies grabbed Bob from out of the school shower and tossed him, butt naked, onto the gym floor in front of an assembly of the entire school.  Everyone laughed, except Calvin, who gives Bob his letter jacket to cover up with.

Fast forward twenty years and Calvin, who had been named the student most likely to succeed, found himself in a job that he did not like, being surpassed by people he trained, and feeling like his life was a disappointment, despite being married to his high school sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet).  On the eve of the 20th class reunion, Bob approaches Calvin for some help.  However, Bob was fat no more, displaying a surprisingly muscle bound look.  Even more surprising for Calvin was that he found himself smack dab in the middle of a CIA mission as Bob reveals to him that he is an agent of the CIA.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are the reason to see this movie.  They are really great together.  They are funny, and surprisingly complex, considering the rest of the movie.  Bob has never really gotten over that defining moment at the assembly and he wears the scars fully.  It is shown that, despite his remarkable transformation, Bob has yet to overcome the psychological aspects of the moment, remaining an innocent, childlike man, mountain though he may be.  Meanwhile, Hart is considerably more subdued in this film than he is in other film vehicles (ex. Ride Along etc).  Yes, he still does too much screaming, but it is not as much.  It is as if he can tell that the smoothness between him and The Rock was special.

I did have some problems with Central Intelligence.  As a teacher, I found that initial scene at the assembly to be so far fetched that it almost pulled me out of the film.  Something like what happened would never be allowed to be treated as a joke and the students involved in this terrible incident would be treated severely, which is not the impression this film gives.

I do like the fact that the film does take an anti-bullying message, and I can certainly understand how an event like this could make Bob the way that he was.  It was just that the whole situation stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit far.

Which is done many times throughout the movie.  The action scenes are extremely out there.  Many of them are good and, especially, funny, but that does not change the fact that they are stretches.

The film is very predictable.   Now, in order to effectively talk about this, I am going to have to go into spoiler talk, so…

SPOILER

In a flashback, we are introduced to Bob’s partner who Bob said was murdered by a shadowy figure known as The Black Badger.  As soon as I saw that Bob’s partner was being played by Aaron Paul, I knew what the story was leading to.  You don’t get a star the caliber of Aaron Paul to kill him in a one-off flashback.  So I knew he would turn out to be alive and the villain in the end.

Now, having said that, the film does an adequate job of making you wonder if that really was the case.  The film plays it as if Bob was actually the villain behind this entire plot, and that he had killed his own partner.  It did this “twist” so well that I was even questioning whether or not The Rock was our film’s hero.

END OF SPOILER

Bob did get kind of annoying at times, but I enjoyed the choices made for the character.  He was a remarkably sad man, who claimed that Calvin was his best friend, despite not seeing him for 20 years.  Calvin was the only person who ever treated Bob with respect and Bob found a connection.

Yes, this movie is predictable, and you have seen everything here before.  The script was nothing special and the action was okay.  The reason this film succeeds at all is because of its two main stars.  Every time they are together on screen, it pops (including some very funny outtakes just prior to the credits).  If this was any other two people, Central Intelligence would not work at all, but it is not two other people.  It is Ke3vin Hart and Dwayne Johnson.  And they are great.

3 stars

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