Movie Review: ‘Central Intelligence’
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul
Plot: An accountant who used to be a high school jock reunites with a boy who used to be bullied only to find he’s become a super CIA agent involved in a mission of global importance whilst also being framed for murder.
Review: It doesn’t seem like it wasn’t all that long ago I didn’t know who Kevin Hart was. Then he turned up in Get Hard and everyone told me what a big deal he was but I found him annoying so I ignored him. Suddenly he’s everywhere and the slight annoyance is now a constant irritation. Essentially Kevin Hart is a rash. This is one of 5 movies over the last two years and hasn’t endeared himself to me. I’ve often been told he does great stand-up, but I’ve only seen his movies and am yet to enjoy any of them.
So here’s Central Intelligence, where he’s at least paired up with the endlessly charismatic Dwayne Johnson and there’s a workable premise. The concept of an overweight, bullied kid becoming a mix of Jason Bourne and 80s era Arnie has the potential for a lot of fun. To say that the concept is underused is to say something very obvious.
Tony Zhou says in his video series ‘Every Frame a Painting’ that most modern comedies aren’t movies…they’re lightly edited improv. This is rarely more true than it is in this movie. The entire first 20 minutes is exposition, the characters sitting across from each other and explaining the plot to each other. There are barely any jokes in the dialogue. The impression is that large chunks of the script read ‘Kevin Hart does something funny’, then they filmed him waving his hands in the air and making fart noises (literally) for a few minutes. The potential for comedic action is also completely squandered, as we have Johnson performing standard action fare with the occasion cut away to Hart saying something about it. Most attempts at jokes is Hart saying he needs to ‘take a shit’ or Johnson liking something that girls like, such as unicorns and Twilight.
The very small saving grace is that the leads do share some good chemistry and bounce of each other well. With more time on building their relationship the movie may have worked better, but their entire backstory takes place in the space of a five minute flashback that defines their lives from then on. The movie does attempt to spin some ambiguity about whether or not Johnson is good or bad, but the entire film is so predictable there’s no actual suspense built up before the tired, stupid ending.
Seeing Dwayne Johnson charmingly fight his way through an open plan office full of enemies using whatever comes to hand, including a banana, is always going to be fun, but there’s little else to recommend this flat comedy.
Rating: THREE out of TEN