The two most bankable stars in the world right now are Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. The first made his career in stand-up shows and in comedy films. The second one started off as a famous WWE wrestler, and then moved on to big action films. It would seem only logical for a studio to put these two movies stars together, and that’s precisely what Warner Bros. and Universal have done (both studios teaming up for the first time in more than two decades) with Central Intelligence.
Central Intelligence opens up with a scene at a high school in 1996. The large and overweight Bob (Dwayne Johnson) is teased for his size, and is dragged from the locker room, naked, and thrown into the school gym where the whole school is gathered; he is laughed at by all except one, Calvin (Kevin Hart), the popular and ‘perfect’ senior, who covers him up with his jacket. 20 years later we find Calvin is a boring accountant; he is contacted by Bob on the verge of their high school reunion asking to meet up for a couple of beers. Calvin agrees and finds out that Bob has suddenly become muscular and fit. And Calvin also learns, though too late, that Bob works in the CIA. The government, however, is tracking down Bob because they believe he has gone rogue with government secrets. Bob tells Calvin that he is trying to track down a so-called Black Badger who is the one who actually stole the government files. Bob also tells Calvin that he needs his accountant skills to help him track down the location of the Black Badger’s transaction as he plans to sell the files.
The plot is a classic buddy-cop set-up with two polar opposite characters. The worst thing that could have happened to this film is that Hart and Johnson have no chemistry whatsoever and that they try and overshadow each other’s star, instead they seemed to share screen time quite well. Hart is an expert comedic actor, and he knows very well how to pull laughs from us so he was up to expectation. Johnson on the other hand, surprised me again, he shows that he has great comedic timing and was able to hold his awkward interaction with Hart very well, he is proving to be not just a big star, but a decent actor as well.
The story is really on a second tier of importance, and, in a way, it mocks your typical spy movie, though I think it could have been more satirical. It reminded me at some points of Get Smart (in which Johnson also starred), but in a more bogged down form. The jokes in the film were good as well, but the real laughs come from clear improvisation of the leads who had be choking on my drink at one point.
I enjoyed the film, it was a fun time that never got too vulgar or intense; you have two mega stars who work well together. And essentially you laugh, and while in my taste I like a little more risk in comedy, this one pulls it off just fine.