Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence [2016] triggers laughter behind the direction of Rawson Marshall Thurber and the great combination of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Thurber who directed the raunchy We’re The Millers [2013] and forever quotable Dodgeball [2004], relies on the big time stardom of Johnson and Hart in his return to comedy. Hart uses his trademark comedy to portray a bored accountant who meets back up with an old high school buddy played by Johnson. Throw in a government hunt for Johnson and you have one of Kevin Hart’s better films in recent memory.

Good Use of a Big Johnson:  Dwayne Johnson does not disappoint in this film at all. At first, it may seem like Johnson’s character, Bob Stone, is flat and completely lacking any compelling features. But as the story progresses we begin to see Johnson portraying Stone as an insecure man who never really shook off the abuse he received as a teen in high school. These insecurities make him incredibly relatable to the audience which furthers the credibility Johnson has as an actor. Bob Stone is the product of a real world issue: bullying. It was a bit risky for a comedy to tackle such an extreme issue in the world but Thurber and Johnson did a wonderful job in addressing why bullying is bad and how it can really impact an individual. And it is worth noting that Johnson delivers the subtle comedy of Bob Stone with expert precision. Johnson has not had many opportunities to play a strict comedy clown in a film and Central Intelligence gave him the creative freedom to discover his style.

Personality Through the Roof:  Central Intelligence offers a lot of really smart jokes that can easily go unnoticed if you are not familiar with the 80s, 90s. and current pop culture. These references and links are used in a very discreet way that makes it even more enjoyable and appreciated if you can catch them. Luckily the film does not lack from the PG-13 rating. Harsh language and inappropriate jokes were not needed to keep the laughs going. The two leads of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) and Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) deliver personable experiences that make them a very memorable duo for a comedy. It would be nice to see these two in more action/comedy films together.

Too Much Downtime:  There are too many moments in Central Intelligence that provide nothing for the story or the fans. Calvin’s relationship with his wife is not fleshed out at all so she is a simple symbol of the “good guy” role he plays. The agents that are after Bob have very dull writing which never makes them believable or a real threat.

Over-Stuffed:  Although Johnson and Hart give some of their best performances in the film, the direction relies too much on small and insignificant interactions between the two in hopes to bond them more than they possibly can. Early and all throughout the film it is simple to identify Calvin’s opinions of the situations around him but yet Bob is continuously forced (by the script and direction) to build a bridge that is unwanted by Calvin and even the audience at times.  This film would have benefitted from the director taking a little more control of the production rather than hoping Johnson and Hart could carry it from beginning to end.

Central Intelligence has one of the best performances by Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as the film explores some real world issues along with great, subtle jokes.