Central Intelligence: Spoiler Free Review.
The movie ‘Central Intelligence’ would at first glance, appear from it’s trailers to yet another run-of-the-mill buddy cop comedy featuring Kevin Hart’s character from Ride Along. Luckily this isn’t (exactly) the truth. The film has a consistent underlying message about the problem of adolescent bullying, the issues it leaves people with later in life, and the effects that simple kind acts can have on a person. This message is rather cleverly draped in a story about a disenfranchised overweight boy Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) and high school all star Calvin ‘The Golden Jet’ Joyner (Kevin Hart). The circumstances of their reuniting 20 years after high school is a bit contrived, but believable, due to a simple act of kindness committed by Joyner.
What ensues after they reunite is an interesting romp that sends Joyner ping ponging back and forth between the CIA and Dwayne’s character (who renamed himself Bob Stone shortly after high school.) Neither Joyner nor the audience knows exactly who to believe at any given time, and the supporting characters help move the story along quite nicely. All in all, the movie isn’t as “by the numbers” as one would expect, and much better of a picture than ‘Ride Along’ or its sequel.
When delving into specifics, the first thing to be noticed is “Fat Rob”, in the first two seconds, the CG effects that put The Rock’s face onto an amorphous adolescent body, seem a bit off, but quickly get better for the short amount of time they’re needed. Retrospectively, it’s difficult to tell weather Kevin Hart’s de-aging is done digitally or is just a result of him shaving off his facial hair, and good make up.
Aside from the look of the characters as their teenaged selves, their behavior two decades later is strangely indicative of who they were in the past. The film’s trailer makes The Rock’s “Bob Stone” seem like a well put together CIA warrior, when he’s actually still very much the odd, bumbling nerd he was in high school, just in a different physical frame. Johnson’s strangeness can be a bit off putting at times, but when balanced with Kevin Hart’s “dimmed down high school star” persona, it works quite well. There are quite a few moments that are unexpectedly funny due to the duo’s comedic chemistry.
Aside from Johnson and Hart, there are two or three surprise cameos in the film that the media screening enjoyed, and some well placed jokes that aren’t in the trailers. That being said however, the plot seems like it could take some well welcomed twists, and is blandly predictable at times. When big name actors show up for only two minutes and disappear again, you know they’ll return at some point later on in the film, making things fairly easy to predict. The most off putting attribute however, was an overtly obnoxious mindset that high school defines you.
The entire movie has a thematic hue suggesting that high school is the precipice on which your entire life will be determined, which (to any high schoolers reading this) is completely untrue. There are also a few action set pieces that are a bit off the mark. At one point Dwayne Johnson’s character places a bullet in exactly the right place with perfect accuracy, but has trouble shooting anyone throughout the rest of the film. The movie also harkens back to 1984’s ’16 Candles’ multiple times for comedic effect, but if you’ve never seen ’16 Candles’ those jokes would make no sense.
When everything is said and done, ‘Central Intelligence’ is a movie worth checking out if you have a free weekend, and definitely will be remembered when discussing the film credits of both Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. Their on screen chemistry is reflective of their being friends in real life, and only adds to the strengths of the film. The film leans a bit on typical action tropes, but still delivers a solid message against the trend of bullying in schools, and doing whatever kinda acts you can to help someone in need. ‘Central Intelligence’ comes out in theaters this Friday the 17th in the U.S.