Central Intelligence Review
The buddy comedy movie. It could be a genre all unto itself at this point. There is at least one made every year and almost always, they aren't very special. They have become the same thing every time, two unsuspecting men come together, not liking each other at first, but then saving the day from the bad guys, all the while making good jokes. Its a standard sub-genre, but every once in awhile, something special comes out of it. "Central Intelligence" is something special. I am shocked that I found myself enjoying this today.
I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Both The Rock and Kevin Hart are charisma machines at this point. They bounce off of each other like they've been working with each other for years. In "Central Intelligence," we get the Rock as Robbie, who was a fat, misunderstood kid in high school who got picked on. The only person who ever came to his aide was Calvin (Hart), who was the most popular kid in high school. Twenty years later, Calvin isn't where he imagined himself. Sure, he married his high school sweetheart, (Danielle Nicolet). But he is just an ordinary accountant and doesn't really do much in his life and it kills him. Then on the eve of his twenty year high school reunion, Robbie gets in contact with Calvin after many years and the two catch up. But this isn't all for nothing, Robbie needs Calvin's accountant skills to stop secret codes from getting in the wrong hands, and Robbie's already been framed for it. Oh, almost forgot. Robbie is a fit and a dangerous CIA agent.
Its a standard set up for a buddy comedy, but as I suggested above, The Rock and Kevin Hart are ripe for material like this. They make it matter more than they should and the result is an enjoyable action comedy. It features some predictability at every corner. We know how this story will affect its characters. We know pretty much from the get-go who the real villain of the story is and who framed Robbie. But the movie is so much fun that we don't much care about the predictability. Plus, its such a good ride getting to the end that only a churl could find fault.
This isn't the typical Rock character we usually see in his movies. Yes, I know The Rock did lots of questionable material at the beginning of his career. But once he got out of that funk, he started being the tough guy I felt he needed to be. Even in the comedies he's in these days, he is still the tough guy with the one-liners. Not so much in "Central Intelligence" and at first, that scared me. The Rock's Robbie is a goofy, happy-go-lucky and socially inept character. Its not something I'd ever picture The Rock excelling at, but he actually makes the character work in a big way.
Kevin Hart plays the usual Kevin Hart character. He's easily agitated, he's unsure of himself, he's witty and when things get crazy, he immediately starts screaming. Hart has been perfecting his own craft for a few years now, and I think he does a good job. You may weep that Hart appears to be a one-trick pony, but his dramatic work here isn't bad. I believe in his relationship with his wife slowly turning estranged. I believe in his character being haunted by his former glory and wrestling with never getting out of high school. Hart finds the right details in his character, but he's still Kevin Hart all the way. But I don't mind, because he's very funny in this.
There are some fun action scenes that I think people will dig. I also think people will enjoy the cameos made by Aaron Paul (who gets a big laugh with his particular "bitch" moment.), Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy and Thomas Kreachmann. But most of all, I think you'll enjoy a buddy comedy that isn't like the others.
FINAL GRADE: B