Like many children of the 1990’s, I was and have been a huge fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson since he wrestled in the WWF (later WWE) and continued to be a fan as he successfully transitioned from wrestler to successful Hollywood actor. Unlike many people today, I am not that big a fan of Kevin Hart. His shtick as a comedian, i.e. “I’m short, black, and get into zany situations because of this” tends to wear thin on me very quickly. Having said that, the comedic duo of Hart & Johnson is (pardon the pun) rock solid in Central Intelligence and the movie as a whole is a funny and entertaining action comedy.
The film centers around two former Central High School students as they approach their 20-year high school reunion. Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) was the most popular kid in high school, but is now a miserable accountant who hates his current lot in life. Bob Stone (The Rock), formerly Robbie Wheirdicht, was an unattractive, unpopular student who was mercilessly bullied in high school. Bob viewed Calvin as his only friend after the latter showed him kind mercy during a terrible school prank. Bob is now an incredibly handsome badass CIA agent who needs Calvin’s help to stop a plot to steal access to the USA’s satellite grid.
The film is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber who wrote and directed the highly regarded cult comedy DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. He co-wrote and directed Central Intelligence and the film’s story deserves some credit for not only being funny but for also tackling the traumatizing effects of bullying. The Rock’s character, Bob Stone, was bullied in a terrible incident in high school that still haunts him despite his remarkable new physique and abilities. On the other hand, Calvin is struggling to deal with his underachieving and “boring” life as an accountant. The film also deserves credit for its lightness in tone, which allows for fun, intense action shootouts and fight scenes (where almost no one seems to die). It’s comedic set pieces are also quite good, especially a scene in a psychiatrist's office which is downright hilarious.
The film wouldn’t work if it’s two leads weren’t funny or lacked chemistry, and thankfully neither are a problem. The Rock is hilarious as a weirdo and badass extraordinaire who loves unicorns, fanny packs, and his good friend and idol Calvin Joyner aka “The Golden Jet”. Kevin Hart has never had a problem making fun of himself for being short but he does a good job playing a befuddled straight man who is being forced to go along with The Rock’s seemingly insane plans. Calvin is forced by Bob into increasingly stressful, dangerous, and hilarious situations putting a strain on their budding friendship.
Central Intelligence has already made a ton of money and will probably get a green light for a sequel soon, which would be fantastic. If you’re a fan of solid action, excellent comedy, Kevin Hart or The Rock, then go see this movie. It’s a buddy cop movie with a great set of leads, solid tone, and a decent plot. The bottom line is the film is funny and entertaining, and that’s all you can ask for in an action comedy.
TLDR: Central Intelligence is a hilarious tweaking of the buddy cop genre that is anchored by the chemistry and strong performances of its two leads. 3.75/5 Stars.