Central Intelligence isn’t concerned with changing the status quo. There’s no grand message, no attempt to subvert the genre, or even poke fun at it Jump Street style. With its bland title and boilerplate odd-couple posters, you’d be forgiven for simply dismissing this as Ride Along 3 and moving on. However, Central Intelligence is a lot of fun, and deserves credit for recognising its best assets and simply putting them at the forefront – Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Love them or hate them, their chemistry is electrifying and the movie works best when it just lets them run with it.
This is especially true for Johnson, who is clearly having the time of his life bringing the laughs, and the pain, as Bob Stone, “Jason Bourne in Jorts”. His relentless enthusiasm and goofy grin are infectious, balanced nicely with Kevin Hart’s high-pitched intensity, and the script gives them a lot to work with. This is, however, more than just the Johnson and Hart show; the cast is rounded out by a slew of great comic actors, including Birdman’s Amy Ryan and a wonderfully smarmy turn from Jason Bateman.
Unfortunately the film falters on the action front. While some early action sequences are surprisingly visceral, and watching the Rock in action is always a treat, the spy-side peters out to an underwhelming climax. Similarly, concerns about Bob’s mental health are brought up and tossed aside, which feels like a missed opportunity to make an important message about bullying and body positivity.
While the only award it will win this year is best tagline, Central Intelligence proves that a little Hart and a big Johnson makes a lot of fun. With great music, a tight script and powerhouse performances, it can be forgiven for feeling a little old hat.
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Aaron Paul, Amy Ryan, Jason Bateman
DIRECTOR: Rawson Marshall Thurber
WRITERS: Ike Barinholtz & David Stassen (story & screenplay), Rawson Marshall Thurber (screenplay)
SYNOPSIS: After he reunites with an old pal through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage.