Johnson, Hart Wring Laughs Out of ‘Central Intelligence’
By Evan Coleman
If the Jason Bourne movies were turned into a buddy comedy, you’d get something resembling Central Intelligence.
The setup is fairly simple: It’s 1996. Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a gentle soul with an overweight body, is tormented in high school by bullies. The only one to stick up for him is Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart), the most popular guy in school, who also happens to have been voted “most likely to succeed.”
Fast forward to the present day. Calvin has married his high school sweetheart and has a successful job as an accountant, but he’s having a hard time reconciling his ho-hum life with the grandiose accomplishments he imagined himself achieving when he was voted “most likely to succeed.”
As Calvin struggles with his midlife crisis, a seemingly chance encounter reconnects him with Robbie, who is now going by the name Bob Stone and has shed all his fat and replaced it with raw muscle.
As they reconnect over drinks, a bar fight reveals that Bob’s newfound muscles aren’t just for show; he’s picked up some impressive moves over the years.
This is where the movie starts to get interesting, as Calvin learns of Bob’s background as a CIA agent.
But is he on the side of justice, or has he gone rogue? As the film leaves Bob’s intentions ambiguous, the film starts to throw some twists and turns that feel at home in a Bond or Bourne movie, even if they are on the rather predictable side. Certainly, the twists in this movie aren’t too hard to wrap one’s head around, but this is a comedy, and the twists are mostly just an excuse to set up jokes and make the audience laugh. In that regard, the movie mostly succeeds, although a few corny jokes fall flat.
A lot of the success of the movie’s comedy is owed to the leads. Hart and Johnson are both naturally gifted comedic actors, wringing chuckles out of even the most cornball jokes in the film. And of course, the actors shine when they’re given more elevating material to work with.
Central Intelligence isn’t the most thrilling spy flick you’ll ever see, and it’s certainly not the most uproarious comedy. But for a fun, fluffy summer comedy, it’s worth the price of admission.
Summary: Not a thrilling spy flick or an uproarious comedy, but a fun summer comedy worth the price of admission.