-An annoying characterization of Dwayne Johnson detracts from what could be a very special buddy cop comedy led by Kevin Hart.
Buddy cop films are all about chemistry, and if there’s any doubt about that statement, I urge you to turn to this year’s The Nice Guys as a firm example. However, if that same film tries to subvert the chemistry and make it more about fitting explosive actors into a routine plot, we can kiss the chemistry goodbye; such is the case with Central Intelligence.
The film does everything it can to try to make a coherent plot that builds tension, deciding to be a true action/comedy as opposed to more about the humor in the vein of The Other Guys or something like that. This actually hurts the quality quite a bit. Much of the film is spent around exploring the annoying personality of Dwayne Johnson’s Robby Weirdicht, a formally bullied obese teenager turned rogue CIA agent. Although we feel for him (the film does a good job attacking bully culture in schools), his geeky personality will grate on the audience, and by taking away The Rock’s trademark charisma, he’s fairly exposed in this film.
Johnson’s plan is a bit convoluted; there’s some data on a server that he can’t access because he doesn’t have the accounting ability, so he turns to former-friend, mega-popular Calvin “The Golden Jet” Joyner (Kevin Hart) to help him out. The CIA is after Dwayne Johnson, so we’re not sure whether or not he’s a villain, or he’s gone rogue to accomplish a very daring mission.
The scenes in the trailer that show The Rock being…well…The Rock, and Kevin Hart being extremely out of his element are actually few and far between. The majority of Johnson’s screen time is devoted to him dealing with pain after a bad bullying incident in high school, and his constant obsession with Hart’s Joyner, the one person who was nice to him, is endearing at first but grows extremely tiresome by the end. Then, when the film tries to get us to care about the plot, it flops down on the ground like a fish out of water and struggles for air. I became immediately disengaged once the buddy cop comedy ceased to be.
Taking away the charisma of Dwayne Johnson hurts, but the only merit that this film gets is the massively funny Kevin Hart, who tries to scream and run through an hour and a half of a crumbling film around him to support it. Hart’s great as ever in this, getting the bulk of the laughs, but once the film ends, there’s a credits scene with all of the outtakes of the real Dwayne Johnson with Kevin Hart, and how their chemistry and fun in filming this being undeniable. I want to see that movie (or even the movie from the trailers).
Central Intelligence (2016)
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re the Millers)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, and Aaron Paul
RT Score: 64%