Central Intelligence definitely has all the appearances of a mass-market, mainstream product of the Hollywood movie factory. After all, you have Kevin Hart – who has been blowing up with his new stand-up movie, 2 Ride-Alongs and 2 Think Like a Mans… and Dwayne Johnson, who has been subtly trying to get my attention in comedy movies for some time now. Why not just the adrenaline-charged serious action movies, Dwayne?
Johnson has been walking that typecast line for a while. With knockout roles in GI Joe, The Fast & Furious series, and remakes like Walking Tall, Escape From Witch Mountain, and the upcoming Jumanji, he has more or less played the same character, with varying degrees of charisma depending on the movie’s requirements. With his intelligence varying from doofus Pain & Gain levels to the cunning Hobbs introduced in Fast Five, I have yet to see him in a role that required more from him than an angry, determined look and a muscle flex.
Kevin Hart, similarly, has been in the same role for much of his movies: the insecure, self-absorbed goofball that always tries to talk his way out of situations. I actually began to tire of this character after the second Ride-Along movie, and I was prepared to groan at his resurgence with this new venture.
Surprise, surprise, Kevin Hart is the straight man in this movie. His character, nicknamed in high school as “The Golden Jet,” is not only a normal person, but he’s faced with very real passions, problems, and insecurities. He’s worried that he peaked in high school, and that he is less of a man because of it. This insecurity leaks into his relationships.
Meanwhile, The Rock has been thrust into the comedic role. The movie not only calls his sanity into question throughout the entire running time, but also uses close-ups to show… emotion? On The Rock? It’s like they gave him one of those charts with the different feelings and what they look like.
Central Intelligence is hilariously fun. Kevin Hart is satisfyingly fresh and comical as the straight man because that’s what makes his stand-up funny; he’s a relatable, insecure guy with real concerns. Seeing that man flustered is too funny.
The Rock is hilarious because he’s honestly terrifying. Not in his usual way – in a deranged way. If one of my friends began acting like he does in this movie, I would have run far, far away within the first five or six minutes. Most of the laughter at Johnson’s antics starts with nervous laughter. The action is fun, over-the-top, but not 21-Jump Street insane.
That’s not to say that this is a perfect movie. No way. The beginning of this movie reminds me of 17 Again in all of the wrong ways, and features some of the most horrendous CGI of the decade. The Golden Jet’s love interest is vapid and cardboard, convinced that they need counseling with little to no evidence of any real problem between the two. Yet somehow, I know that when this title goes on sale I’ll be there to swoop it up. Definitely worth a Red Box night with the lady.
On a scale of Doom to Fast Five, I give this movie a Get Smart. It’s funny, full of action, and has some excellent scenes, but has little to actually remember.