Review: Central Intelligence


Two of the biggest names in Hollywood, Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, teamed up for the new action comedy, Central Intelligence.

Hart plays Calvin “The Jet” Joyner, a former high school star who feels like he’s underachieved. Johnson plays Bob Stone, Calvin’s old high school classmate who transformed from an overweight kid getting picked to a deadly CIA agent.

Nobody has heard from Bob since his embarrassing moment senior year. He shows up the same weekend as their 20 year high school reunion asking for Calvin’s help. Before Calvin knows what’s going on, he finds himself in the middle of a top secret CIA espionage scandal. Bob claims he’s being framed for his partner’s murder and must find a mysterious character known as the Black Badger to clear his name.

Central Intelligence is a by-the-numbers action comedy. It has the usual tropes – the unhappy guy, the goofy partner, the wife who doesn’t know what her husband is doing, the unconventional partners, and plenty of twist and turns to keep audiences guessing.

The film works because of its two stars, Hart and Johnson. They have amazing chemistry. Even when the set ups and jokes don’t’ work well, the two stars are so incredibly talented and charming; the film is able to navigate through it and still get some good laughs. The magic they have covers up a lot of the films missteps with the script.

As predictable as the film is, it’s funny because the story puts Hart and Johnson in situations to be at their best. Kevin Hart does Kevin Hart things while The Rock stretches a little bit, but he’s essentially the muscle. It’s a throwback to the 80’s action movies when studios would pair a comedian with a strong man.

There’s no reason for this film to be as funny as it is. No reason at all. Yet, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The best sequence comes during Calvin and Maggie’s (Danielle Nicolet) marriage counseling session. None of this scene is in the trailer and it has some of the best laughs in the movie.

The elephant in the room is people being tired of seeing The Rock and Kevin Hart in everything. It’s easy to roll your eyes and dismiss what these two are able to do, but if you take a step back, you’ll see how talented they are and the natural partnership they have onscreen. They’re both good at what they do and Central Intelligence puts what they do best on full display.

Speaking of things not in the trailer, the film includes three really great cameos that aren’t reveled in the trailer. The first cameo is the best, but last cameo is guaranteed to get a loud pop out of the audience.

The action in the film is very minimal, it’s just enough to move the pace of the movie along. There are no big action set pieces or epic car chases. The action consist mostly of The Rock shooting and punching people. The film does tip-toe on the PG-13 line. There are a few times the movie leans towards R without actually taking the full leap.

Central Intelligence isn’t just entertaining; it’s a legitimately funny comedy. It’s over the top in a fun way. Hart and Johnson make a great comedic team. It may not be the big action comedy of the summer many hoped it would be. It’s unclear if two of Hollywood’s biggest stars can save the summer, but they deliver a very entertaining action comedy for all families.  Most fans of action comedies will enjoy it for what it is or catch it on TNT in 3 years when it’s playing every Saturday.

Grade: B