Central Intelligence is an action comedy that stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Bob Stone, and Kevin Hart as Calvin Joyner. The movie starts out 20 years in the past, when The Rock was an over-weight, braces wearing nerd, and Kevin Hart was the Jock, Class President, voted most likely to succeed nice guy. To set up the narrative, we are treated to a scene where Bob (remember, he’s very over-weight) is dancing naked in the shower. Before long, a group of cruel jocks grabs Stone (still nude), and proceeds to throw him out in the middle of a school assembly, where Joyner is giving a motivational speech. At once, everyone starts to laugh (even some of the teachers), and the only person who takes pity on him is Calvin, giving him his Letterman’s jacket. Fast forward 20 years, and we see that Calvin Joyner is working as an accountant, who is clearly unhappy with his career. He hasn’t lived up to his potential, and is really struggling with his own disappointment. As his self-esteem hits an all-time low, Bob Stone (who is now the behemoth we all know The Rock to be) makes a somewhat forceful appearance into his life. After a while, we find out that the Stone is a wanted CIA agent, and Joyner unwillingly gets sucked into a bunch of shenanigans throughout the rest of the movie.
I’m just going to come out and say it, this movie is FUNNY! I was laughing consistently throughout the entire film. Kevin Hart’s character is very likable, and only a shadow of the normally obnoxious persona he usually takes on. He suffers from some very real world problems that a lot of people will be able to identify with. The Rock thoroughly surprised me with just how funny he was. He came across as a giant loveable teddy bear (granted, one that could easily kill you) whom you couldn’t resist wanting to hug. His attitude was very infectious, and he achieved the impossible…..somehow making a fanny pack seem totally boss. The chemistry between these two actors is what drove the film, and it’s clear that they had a lot of fun making it, which is reinforced by some out-takes showed during the end credits.
Central Intelligence definitely has an anti-bullying message, which is depicted in the way The Rocks character handles himself. It’s clear that he still struggles with his high-school experience, and has left mental scars that stubbornly refused to heal. There is a scene towards the end of the film that’s supposed represent him getting over that trauma, but it out stayed its welcome, and just became kind of awkward. The message may come across as a little strong, but it’s effective and doesn’t take anything away from the over-all experience.
The majority of the action sequences are entertaining, well-choreographed, and even humorous at times. The Rock of course excelled in these areas and was enjoyable to watch. However, there were a handful of moments that fell short. These scenes were shot too close up and were shaky, making it difficult to interpret what was happening on screen. Also, there were one or two scenes that promised a fun action set-piece, but didn’t deliver. The one that comes to mind involved an assassin making an attempt on The Rocks life while rocking a pair of Nunchucks. Right as this scene starts to heat up, it cuts away to something going on with Hart elsewhere. What? I mean, why? Who doesn’t want to see an awesome fight with The Rock taking on a Nunchuck wielding foe?!
One of the things that makes this movie work so well is the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are moments where the Rock completely disappears in a very Batman like fashion, throws people an impossible distance, and even cleans up a mess at a speed that would put Mary Poppins to shame. I was surprised to see more than one star cameo (none of them were in the trailers), all of which brought their own arsenal of comedic relief. If not for these moments, the story would have suffered a bit, for it’s a little weak and somewhat predictable.
Even going into this movie expecting a good time, I was pleasantly surprised at just how enjoyable it was. The Rock really flexed his comedic muscle (Ha! wordplay), and played one of the most infectiously optimistic and likable characters I’ve ever seen. Kevin Hart played the same part he usually does, but in a much more likeable less obnoxious way, and his chemistry with The Rock was really fun. Although not every joke landed, and not all action scenes were memorable, Central Intelligence was a really good time, and I would gladly recommend it.
FINAL SCORE: B+
So, have you seen Central Intelligence? If so, I would love to know your opinion. Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? Also, if there is anything coming up that you would like me to review, comment below and I will do my best to oblige! Thanks for reading.