Classic Review: Central Intelligence (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Central Intelligence” which originally appeared here.

Bullied as a teen for being overweight, Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) shows up to his high school reunion looking fit and muscular. While there, he finds Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), a fast-talking accountant who misses his glory days as a popular athlete. Stone is now a lethal CIA agent who needs Calvin’s number skills to help him save the compromised U.S. spy satellite system. Together, the former classmates encounter shootouts, espionage and double-crosses while trying to prevent worldwide chaos.

I’ve mentioned a few times on here that I’m not the biggest Kevin Hart fan since I find he plays the same type of role in every film where he always comes off as annoying. I thought things would be different this time, teaming up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The concept looked interesting enough with The Rock as a secret agent. The idea of him being a secret agent seems plausible enough. Despite that, it still looked familiar to Hart’s other films but I still decided to give this one a chance.

We’ve all seen the trailers featuring The Rock, in a CGI fat suit, dancing around in the shower. The film doesn’t waste anytime explaining this by establishing the baseline of his character, Bob Stone, starting his evolution from a fat teen to the fit and muscular guy we all know today. The worst of his fat teen experience had to be when he was shamed by being thrown out naked in front of his old high school. This event scarred him and continues to scar him today. Just because he’s managed to change on the outside, he still hasn’t changed on the inside. These feelings still manifested themselves a few times throughout the film, showing us that Stone is more of a human being than just a caricature.

Calvin Joyner (Hart) was the only guy who was ever nice to Stone in high school. He had so much potential, being the most popular guy in school and voted most likely to succeed but ended up as an accountant. Once his 20-year high school reunion comes along, he starts to miss his glory days. Things start to get better or worse for Joyner when he runs into the new Stone, who is now a CIA agent. Of course Joyner doesn’t know this at first so when he does, he reacts in a way that any Kevin Hart character would (I’ll let you use your imaginations for that one). He does not want any part of what Stone has planned for him and Stone is oblivious (or maybe not) to this and drags him around from danger to danger. A lot of the comedy here comes from Joyner’s unwillingness to go with Stone. This was hit or miss as the material here felt a little forced and was very similar to past Hart films. It is very clear early on that Joyner is not the kind of person who would ever do this by having him be a mostly serious character (as much as Hart can be) but that predictably doesn’t last.

The rest of the comedy is from Stone. He was just so over the top here but it worked. Stone was very confident in his abilities and always acted as if everything was a game. He was just hilarious here with some great lines and moments. He stole almost every scene he was in as his personality kind of overpowered a lot of the scenes. He just made everything feel fun. This included the action scenes which were fun to watch as well. The Rock was a very capable with the action here, doing all the cool action-y stuff and disposing enemies with ease. His chemistry with Joyner was great here as well, creating a more believable and compelling pairing than with Ice Cube and Will Ferrell (and probably with other people from movies I haven’t seen). They were definitely fun to watch together here.

Joyner is a very similar character to past Hart roles but this was a little more forgivable here because he just seemed to work better with Stone. While he still came off as a little annoying, he wasn’t as bad this time as the writing was a little better here. Johnson and his performance was the best part of the film. The fact that he and Hart are great together almost makes up for the plot which was, without giving anything away, iffy at best. There were a lot of inconsistencies here but most people will focus on the Stone/Joyner relationship anyway. The film also features a few cameos which were great.

Overall, this was a very fun action-comedy with some good performances by Johnson and Hart  but the story kind of brought it down a little.

Score: 8/10

If you liked this, please read my other reviews here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, follow me on Instagram, and also like me on Facebook. Would you like to write movie reviews for this site? Contact me above or via social media for more information.

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