Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul.
Written by: Rawson Marshall Thurber, (also story) Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen
Running Time: 107 mins
Release date: 29th June 2016
I don’t know if it’s me but when I got to the cinema to watch a comedy action film, I expect some comedy and even some interesting action sequences and not a film that relies heavily on the charisma of its two leads. That’s exactly what Central Intelligence does, a comedy action film with very little comedy and unimaginative action scenes, which hopes that the two stars will carry it.
During high school, Calvin Joyner was the most popular kid and most likely to succeed. Robbie Weirdicht was a gentle, overweight boy who was easily bullied, yet Calvin saved him from humiliation. Twenty years later and Calvin is in a dead-end job as an accountant when he gets a friend request from Bob Stone, who turns out to be a pumped-up, muscle-bound Robbie, who is now a wanted man by the CIA, even though he’s an agent and needs Calvin’s help to track down a buyer of a satellite known only as the Black Badger.
What starts off with a little promise: having a role reversal for the two main characters. It’s when the reveal happens, that Calvin has become just an ordinary guy while Robbie is now a super spy with no fear, that the film slips into familiarity and laziness. We’ve been here time and time before and it offers up nothing new or interesting to enjoy. Instead, we have flat characters who you care very little about, running around escaping from gunfire or explosions, none of which are that interesting or exciting.
Our heroes banter, jump out of tall buildings, duck and dive a succession of bullets that none get remotely close to the “good guys”. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber seems less interested in developing relationships or forming any emotional bond between the characters, instead moving them from one set piece to another while we all wait for the obvious “twist” to reveal itself. Even the outtakes at the end of the film seem, well frankly, fake and at the screening, I attended, offered the biggest laughs of the whole film.
The cast valiantly performs to win our attention. Amy Ryan is a far better actress to be appearing in something so shallow and empty as this, while a few surprising cameos brighten up the screen for a few brief moments then it’s business as usual. Kevin Hart, who I know is a funny man, seriously needs to find material that will show his comedic talents, instead of making him the little guy who has to scream and shout all the way through. Only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, showing once again that he can be self-deprecating and isn’t afraid to shake up his image, has some amusing moments that manage to keep it at bay from being really awful.
Central Intelligence is lazy, by-the-book filmmaking that lacks inspiration or originality in any department. It washes over you and I’m pretty sure by tomorrow I would have forgotten about it. Please, stop making these types of films unless you are going to add a different dimension or at least make them remotely funny.