Vic (Dave Bautista) is a Los Angeles cop mourning the fact that his partner (Karen Gillan) died on the job. A good partner like him would chase after the drug dealer (Iko Uwais) who was responsible for her death. In the same city, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) struggles to keep his job as an Uber driver.
Vic and Stu’s lives don’t have to intersect – after all, Vic’s eye surgery might even slow the plot down. But he gets a call from an informant about the drug dealer’s new drop, which he pursues. The temporarily blind cop crashes his car, which means he needs Stu’s services to take him across town.
I wanted to like Stuber for the fact that it has three Asian men in it. I’ll give due credit to how this movie maneuvers around how English isn’t Uwais’ first language, but that also means that Tripper Clancy’s script won’t give him juicy material. The script is less interested in a meaty villain as it is with its antiheroes.
The movie, nonetheless, has Bautista who, strangely enough, has done his best work is in tent pole action films. In some, like the Blade Runner sequel, he can do so much with being stoic. He also shows his comedic chops in the Avengers series. And we can say positive things about Bautista leaning into his age here. It shows a lack of vanity, but how many times can an audience endure jokes about ‘old farts’ like Vic? Older people in real life know about how Uber and how modern day things work.
There’s also something positive about seeing Nanjiani who, years prior, was the best thing in other comedies. I like living in this timeline where he’s a leading man, although he’s technically only a sidekick here. His character, Stu, is also a comment on how some people have to masochistically bend over backwards to financially survive.
But Nanjiani is still playing a 21st century version of the passive South Asian worker stereotype. He fights back, both in words and action, but it would be nice if any of those lines were memorable.
Nonetheless, a better movie would have let Karen Gillan’s character live and thus, get to do more things. Sure, Stuber has its share of spunky female characters, like Vic’s assertive boss (Mira Sorvino). But it’s 2019 – scripts shouldn’t have to kill off female characters to give their male counterparts a sense of pathos.
A better movie wouldn’t also be violent and trying to pass that quality off as comedy. There’s a Venn diagram for how both genres stretch their characters’ physical and, to a certain extent, emotional limits. There’s also a scene here where Vic and Stu fight. one that the script draws out. If only modern comedies didn’t drag out their scenes, and rediscovered how effective brevity can be.
- Release Date: 7/12/2019