Unstable Fun: Our Review of ‘Central Intelligence’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 17, 2016
Unstable Fun: Our Review of ‘Central Intelligence’

There’s nothing quite like getting a genuine surprise dropped in your lap.  Central Intelligence should have been just another generic action buddy comedy but it rolls through as an effective and fun romp with a nice message that keeps us guessing, has a fair bit of action along with the laughs coming from some surprising places.

Robbie was a one-time bulled fat geek in high school but now, twenty years later Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) is a chiselled chunk of CIA bad-ass coming home for his high school reunion.  Claiming to be on a deep cover mission to save the free world, he enlists the help of the former ‘big man’ on campus Calvin ‘The Jet’ Joyner (Kevin Hart) who is now a dull old accountant who misses his glory days back in school.  However, before this quiet and boring number cruncher knows what he is getting into, it’s too late to even think about getting out as his increasingly unpredictable and potentially unstable new best friend drags him kicking and screaming into a world filled with shoot outs and double crosses in the espionage game that could get him killed more ways than he could even count.

It’s quite possible that we’ve found Kevin Hart’s perfect comedic use, rather than goofy and boisterous leading man, he makes all the angles work as the straight man and Dwayne Johnson shines as the unstable hero.  Imagine if Lethal Weapon was just a little bit funnier and a little less serious and you’d have Central Intelligence.


Director Rawson Marshall Thurber is a solid hand and knows how to use multiple locations to his advantage in telling a story the right way.  It straddles comedy and action exceptionally well from beginning to end and never tries to be anything more than it already is; a fun action romp.  The script from Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen and Thurber is exceptionally fast and rehashes the return to high school motif in a way that hasn’t been this effective since Grosse Pointe Blank.  Not all the jokes are the smartest, but it keeps such a fast flow to it all that it is easy to forgive the occasional misfire throughout it all, but for the most part it’s a genuinely funny and effective film.  The action set pieces are solid not flashy…but this isn’t Bond or Bourne, they aren’t supposed to be, the movie stays within its confines and knows exactly what it is.

In what just might be his best performance ever, Dwayne Johnson channels into the unicorn loving nerd who just wants a friend that is Bob Stone while still selling the fact that he is an CIA badass with effortless ease.  Johnson can do no wrong here as he gets to be flat out hilarious one minute while kicking ass the next.  Kevin Hart excels as what is essentially the straight man role in this piece, but he still gets his classic moments to shine and once again shows why he is a comedy superstar.  In this outing the material actually forces him to work a little bit and it makes the comedic parts, even better.  He isn’t just acting a fool, for what might be the first time ever, his performance had actual purpose.  There are some interesting cameos and supporting players here central-intelligence-dwayne-rock-johnson-kevin-hartthat I don’t want to spoil for anyone but they are all secondary to the chemistry between Hart & Johnson.

Ultimately, forget what you think you know and throw out your preconceived notions because Central Intelligence is an entertaining romp at the multiplex.  Sometimes you just need a movie that you can kick your feet up to and enjoy without over thinking any of it, this is that movie and then some.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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