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Review: Central Intelligence

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart star in Warner Bros. Pictures' CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

Effective comedy is what movies like Central Intelligence need to satisfy people interested in watching it. If you miss on that, forget about getting a positive response from audiences. That’s always a risk that exposes comedies to failure and makes it one of the more difficult genres to thrive in. However, when done well like it’s done here, it can mask flaws and rescue the picture from utter failure.

Central Intelligence introduces us to Calvin (Kevin Hart), a “big man on campus” in his high school days who didn’t live up to his potential. He’s trying to settle into his life as an accountant, but that changes when a former classmate named Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) comes into his life claiming to be a CIA agent on a top secret case. It’s something Calvin doesn’t want any part of, but he doesn’t have a choice once the bullets start flying and bombs start going off in their direction.

While Central Intelligence looks like the kind of movie that you would think you would know what to expect, it actually surprises in some ways. Until the film’s climax, you don’t completely know who is who even when you come up with certain things. They could have easily relied on the two leads and the usual aspects of this movie genre to carry it, but they try to maintain some kind of suspense while wanting to create thrills to go along with it.

One of the more interesting parts of Central Intelligence that benefits from this approach is the role reversal that goes on. In a comedy, you can pretty much always expect to see Kevin Hart playing the funny guy, but this time he’s starring as more of the typical straight man to Dwayne Johnson’s comedic character. Don’t get me wrong, Hart has his comedic moments too, but you’ll find that this aspect of the picture is resting more on the shoulders of “The People’s Champion.”

This and the fact that the creators behind this picture attempt to put a spin on the buddy action genre gives the movie more life than I anticipated. Instead of completely relying on what we’ve seen over and over again, they attempt to keep us guessing about the allegiances of the characters and their actual identities. While I can’t say it’s very difficult to figure out, it does assist in keeping you engaged during certain points of this movie that runs nearly two hours long.

In terms of negatives, I did find the pacing to be off a bit. With it’s moving from action popping up out of nowhere to subtle scenes with comedy, there are some points where the flow is disrupted and kind of odd. This does effect things, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment that is here to be had by the audience. Other than that, there aren’t many other flaws that I would consider to be too bothersome.

In the end, Central Intelligence works mainly because it knows what it is, but it still manages to try a few new things. Plus, this is a comedy with funny jokes. In many instances, success here can lessen the impact of the flaws the would otherwise damage other movies. As we’ve learned before, good comedy is often times a movie saver.

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Dwayne Johnson
Kevin Hart
Amy Ryan
Danielle Nicolet
Aaron Paul

Film Length: 110 minutes

Release Date: June 17, 2016

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Score - 7/10
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