Movie Review: Central Intelligence
Arguably, not since 1988’s Twins starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito have we seen such an unlikely buddy pairing in a comedy/action movie. In Central Intelligence, Dwayne Johnson’s muscle-bound beefcake is paired with Kevin Hart’s pint-sized firecracker in a formula that is so predictable; you can tell precisely when the inevitable “The Rock” joke would be thrown in for cheap self-indulgent laughs.
The movie opens with a prologue set 20 years back at a High school event where Kevin Hart’s character is being honoured with a most-likely-to-succeed award. Typical of High School (at least, in movie world), the event is interrupted when Dwayne Johnson’s awkward fat-kid character is tossed naked into the arena by High School Bullies. He is saved from further embarrassment by Kevin Hart’s character who gives him his jacket to cover his ample dignity. Fast forward 20 years to the present day, roles are reversed with the High School kid voted most likely-to-succeed now stuck in an unfulfilling job as an accountant and the butt of high school jokes now a hulking mountain of muscles who works for the CIA.
The script is so basic you could tell it took as much brain power to write it as a body builder would require to flex his pecs. As is wont with such fares; the movie was chuck full with implausible but predictable plot twists, cringe-worthy dialogues, gratuitous action sequences just for the heck of it, gags meant to attract cheap laughs and more fanny pack and gay jokes than was required to prop up a floundering script. The only thing more ridiculous than having Dwayne Johnson’s character wear a fanny pack was that horrible canary-yellow T-shirt he had on at some point in the movie. Who was in charge of costume? Stevie Wonder?
In terms of performances, there really wasn’t much to be expected with a script like that. A couple of uncredited cameos did nothing to give acting grace to this centrally unintelligent comedy farce. Some dialogue scenes were so bad; I cringed in embarrassment for Johnson and Hart.
To start with, Kevin Hart pretty much played Kevin Hart in this movie as he has done in virtually every movie he has been in. He is one actor who doesn’t really act his character as much as he acts himself in his movies. Kevin Hart’s character in Central Intelligence essentially embodies Kevin Hart’s characters in Soul Plane, Think Like A Man, Think Like a Man Too, About Last Night, The Wedding Ringer, Grudge Match, Get Hard, Ride Along and Ride Along Too. He is to today’s movies what Richard Pryor was to movies in the 70s and Eddie Murphy in the 80s and 90s arguably to a heightened level of annoyance and a watered down level of talent.
On the other hand, where Central Intelligence failed with casting Dwayne Johnson to play his character, Bob Stone/ Robbie Weirdicht, was casting Dwayne Johnson instead of The Rock. If you are familiar with Dwayne Johnson’s career from his debut as Rocky Maivia in the then-WWF through his evolution to the eyebrow-raising, people’s elbow-dropping, poontang-pie eating, take-your-candy-ass-to-the-know-your-role-boulevard-before-I-layeth-the-smackdown-on-it…lalala…if-you-smell-what-the-Rock-is-cooking The Rock, you will know that there is a Jekyll/Hyde bent to his persona.
Dr. Jekyll is the gentle giant, shy and self-effacing Dwayne Johnson. Mr. Hyde is the fast talking most-electrifying man in Sports and entertainment who in conjunction with other wresting superstars led the WWE to win the Monday Night Wars in, perhaps, its most-definitive era; the Attitude Era.
If it had been the deliciously outrageous The Rock instead of the restrained Dwayne Johnson that played the Bob Stone/ Robbie Weirdicht character in Central Intelligence, perhaps, the movie would not have struggled so hard to be funny. It was not all gloom and doom though. There were some funny moments in Central Intelligence but with a running time of almost 2 hours, it was one unintelligent joke stretched too far. 3/10