“We’re black. We don’t go to therapy. We go to the barbershop.”
I love watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From Walking Tall and The Rundown, to Fast 7 and everything in between. He’s a consistently fun figure to watch and with his natural abilities, his almost unnatural size and buckets and buckets of charisma; he is, without a doubt, the most successful actor to ever come out of the WWE. It’s with absolutely no shame or regret that I say I will watch the man in absolutely anything.
Having now watched, Central Intelligence, I stand by that statement completely.
With the fate of the free world at stake, super spy Bob Stone (The Rock) tracks down Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart, playing Kevin Hart) – a former high school superstar who’s found himself in a bit of a rut – to help him track down a criminal enterprise looking to buy stolen satellite codes (or something, it really doesn’t matter though, does it?). Using Stone’s agency honed expertise and Joyner’s skills as an accountant to trace money back and forth to intercept the sale, the pair make an unlikely, but somewhat successful team.
Meanwhile, Stone is being chased by his own agency. Accused of treason and thought to be the one with the stolen doo-dad to sell; the world seems to shrink around him and his unwilling and unwitting partner in crime as they chase a shadowy bad guy and try to stay alive long enough to prove he exists.
Right off the bat, I feared I had made a horrible mistake and had let myself in for a ghastly couple of hours. Not only has that been pretty much the order of the day for every “comedy” we’ve been afflicted with this year, but within a few seconds of the film starting things take a fast downhill turn!
We are subjected to a naked 15 year old fat kid dancing in the school showers, jiggling arse on full display with The Rock’s face CGI’d onto him. Horrifying! But we are also introduced to super cool kid Calvin, a teenager who can apparently do absolutely anything except pick a decent nickname. “The Golden Jet” – I shit you not, it’s his name not a new category on PornHub – is the epitome of high school cool and the only person decent enough to help the humiliated Bob when it comes to it. But things do quickly pick up from there.
My biggest complaint I suppose about Central Intelligence is the bizarre choice to have The Rock not only pretend to be a bit simple as his cover before admitting that he’s actually in the CIA, but just how long after it’s stopped being funny, the joke is still going on. I mean, the first couple of minutes would have been grand – and I admit that the stupid Facebook chat the pair of unlikely colleagues have early on had me howling with laughter – but once you’ve seen a trailer for the film, the gig is up, we know it’s an act, it doesn’t need to go on for so bloody long. Like some weird parody of Channing Tatum’s “my name is Jeff” skit.
Outside of that though, this action-packed buddy comedy is actually alright. Hart and Johnson are so different in their appearance, resembling a black Harry Potter standing next to a Samoan, muscle bound Hagrid, and equally different in their acting styles that they compliment each other rather well. Hart’s fast-paced stand-up style is proudly on display here as a hapless accountant who’s tripped himself up and stumbled into this dangerous international incident.
And to give him some where it’s due, the man is much more entertaining than I think he’s probably given credit for. His denial and strong feelings against doing anything remotely dangerous is pretty fun when you see his multi-muscled opposite nonchalantly brushing off all the tiny tax-man’s worries and shooting some more stuff.
Don’t misunderstand, this is no Bad Boys. It’s probably closer to Spy for me, such is its mildly amusing nature. And like the McCarthy vehicle before it, Central Intelligence is a much better film when its stars are left to just work and be themselves.
Maybe I’ve just dropped my standards in the last 12 months of awful comedies, but not only did I not hate this silly actioner, I surprised myself when I got to the end and realised I’d been chuckling away at it for most of the film. Give it a butchers, you might actually find yourself pleasantly surprised.