Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart take their crack at the buddy-spy-comedy.
Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) was a fat kid who was picked on in high school. Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), was the star athlete and star student and star everything in high school. Calvin was also the only person who ever stuck up for Bob at all. Flash forward a few years and Calvin finds himself frustrated by a mediocre life as an accounting office drone. With his high school reunion coming up, he starts to second guess the life that he’s living. Bob, claiming he’s in town for the reunion, reaches out to Calvin to hang out. When Calvin meets Bob, he’s surprised to see that he’s turned into a cool, hulking, mountain of a man. Despite his new and improved appearance, Bob is still a big dork who actually looks up to Calvin. What he doesn’t tell Calvin is that he’s currently a rogue CIA agent.
Bob and his partner Phil (Aaron Paul), were on a mission, when Phil was killed in front of him. Bob is being framed for the murder and hunted by Agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan). He comes to Calvin to get his help understanding some financial transactions that end up leading to some high powered criminal activity. Calvin ends up getting pulled by both sides of the conflict but, when Harris threatens his wife, Calvin betrays Bob to the agency.
Of course, Calvin quickly has a change of heart and ends up hatching a fool hardy plan that helps Bob escape from the CIA. Together, they track down the person responsible for Bob being framed. Not too surprisingly, they find out that it’s Bob’s partner, Phil, who faked his death and planned to cell information to the highest bidder. There’s a fight, some shooting, and the duo are able to recover the information and make it back in time to get Bob crowned as the Homecoming King at their reunion.
What did I think?
Full disclosure: I watched this movie on an airplane. However, I think that’s the best way to watch a movie like this. It’s not there to have a complex story or to make you think about social issues or feel feelings. This movie has one primary purpose: to be funny. It’s secondary purpose is to highlight its two stars, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. I would say that it’s moderately successful at both.
I’d say that the jokes were about 50% effective, but there were a lot of them. Most of the humor is playing on the caricatures that Hart and Johnson were playing. I actually thought that their characters worked against some of the humor. As a premise, the idea of Johnson and Hart playing against type is funny. The normally confident and heroic Johnson is an emotionally fragile fan-boy and the always boisterous and confident Hart plays someone who is wracked with self doubt. Unfortunately, that premise isn’t bouyed by any other substance and it quickly begins to feel like it’s limiting their comedic ability more than anything else.
The supporting cast does their best to help the movie, but most of them really only get one or two scenes to make an impact. Amy Ryan is playing the straight man through most of the movie. Aaron Paul’s character is also trying to play the bad guy in a farce, which only really allows for him to be funny in the context that he’s trying to be serious or practical and failing. The best cameo/supporting part of the movie was Melissa McCarthy’s unexpected appearance at the end of the movie as Bob’s high school crush. That actually might’ve been the funniest exchange in the whole movie.
This isn’t a movie that’s worth spending too much time thinking about, but it’s good for some mindless entertainment, especially if you’re a fan of Hart or Johnson.
Central Intelligence (2016)
- Exactly what you'd expect with Hart and Johnson starring in a movie
- it's a good as a movie to just have on in the background
- There's no real substance to the movie outside of being a platform for Hart and Johnson's gags