Genre: Action comedy
Runtime: 114 minutes
Main Cast: Dwayne Johnson
Main Production Company: New Line Cinema
Written By: Ike Barinholtz
Rawson Marshall Thurber
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
When I hear the phrase action comedy, I think of overused cliches and boring action sequences. Central Intelligence is great with their characters, the actors, the comedy, and the chemistry but is bad with their storytelling, plot development, and action sequences. How is that for a mixed bag of nuts?
The story revolves around a reunion between CIA Agent Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) and accountant Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) when Stone needs Joyner’s number crunching skills to locate a compromised US satellite system and must fight off their enemies with gunfights and action.
Central Intelligence is also the rare movie where Kevin James has to play the straight man in a comedy. You can tell though that he is so used to being the lead because he his trying his best to show restraint when needed, but you can tell he is struggling to keep dormant his style of wacky comedy. It’s just a funny observation from me, but that didn’t hurt the movie at all.
Despite a lot of Central Intelligence’s shortcomings, the movie is saved by Dwayne Johnson’s performance. If you smelt what he was cooking then you’re a liar. Johnson plays a jacked man who has insecurities with his morbid obesity and his bullying from high school. His favorite movie is not “The Expendables” but “Sixteen Candles”. There are moments in the movie where his vulnerability shows. Johnson makes it work. Also, all the scenes that are hilarious works mainly because of him. Hart helps with the humor and develops chemistry with Johnson but Dwayne Johnson steals the show.
I also thought it was cool that throughout the movie, you wonder if Dwayne Johnson’s character is a good guy. It makes you pay attention to the story as the twists were simple and believable. I wasn’t scratching my head in confusion nor was I was “this is crap”. Even though it was not an action or comedic aspect to the story, it added to the movie. There is also great supporting cast to the movie, specifically Jason Bateman.
As I have said, this movie has some problems, mainly the predictability of the story and the cliched action sequences that don’t really add much to the story. There was one major cliche I am going to reveal here so SPOILER ALERT. Johnson’s character tells Hart that his former partner (Aaron Paul) was killed in action. The cliche is that the partner (Paul) is not dead and he turns out to be the villain in the climax. I predicted that from the second Aaron Paul’s character was introduced and then I wrote the F-word in big capital letters on my notebook when it happened. END OF SPOILERS. There were several cliches in this movie but that cliche was the worst offender.
Overall, this movie gets a positive review from me because despite all of the faults Central Intelligence has Dwayne Johnson and the cast hit the bottom line: To make me laugh. When the movie gives them time for the characters to speak and give them time to be comedic, it works. If the action was consistently cool or funny that this movie would be great. Still, Central Intelligence has about a 3:1 hit-to-miss ratio with their spoken gags. A majority of comedies find it hard to just break even. Kudos to The Rock for his comedic performance and variety. ***1/4