Thursday, July 7, 2016

Central Intelligence (2016) - movie review

Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 1hr 54mins

Ranked #5 this week according to, Central Intelligence surprised this finicky reviewer with a few laugh-out-loud moments with its overall cheesy, tongue-in-cheek humor that begins with an all-too-familiar coming of age, high school scene that has audiences cheering for the underdog coupled with a few twists and turns that dead-ends into a predictable ending.

Central Intelligence, written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers, 2013), with writing credits to Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, 2012) and David Stassen (Rome is Burning, 2003), stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (San Andreas, 2015; Fast & Furious 6, 2013)as Bob Stone and Kevin Hart (The Wedding Ringer, 2015; Ride Along, 2014); Calvin Joyner, Amy Ryan (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, 2014) as Agent Pamela Harris; and Danielle Nicolet (Born Again Virgin – TV Series, 2015-2016) as Maggie, Calvin's high school sweetheart-turned-wife. 

Bullied as a kid, the overweight Bob Stone reconnects through Facebook with his “only friend” from high school, Calvin Joyner, who rescued him from humiliation during an awkward moment at an end-of-the year rally. The once-popular and athletic, voted “Most Likely to Succeed” Joyner, a good-natured, fast-talking accountant finds himself in the middle of an international spy state of affairs. The irony reveals itself when Bob (a former chubby, music-loving, braces-wearing teen turned muscular and charming secret agent trying to clear his name with the hot-on-his-trail Agent Harris), who spent six hours a day working out in the gym for the past 20 years sporting an old school-style fanny pack, recruits the mild-mannered Calvin, whom Bob calls “a snack-size Denzel,” for his numbers-crunching math skills to break a code needed to prevent a U.S. satellite system from falling into the hands of thieves.

Kevin Hart's diminutive stature adds to this action-comedy especially when standing next to or interacting with the 6-foot-5-inch Dwayne Johnson. While Hart's humor is belly-busting and fresh not to mention with perfect comedic-delivery, Johnson was depicted as an “air head” and an almost stereo-typical “dumb jock.” This reviewer wishes his role was stronger, more believable, more intelligent (hence the title) and less herky-jerky.

This film is action-packed with high speed, car-chasing and car-flipping scenes with plenty of friendly bantering among the dynamic duo. The story line revolves around the twisted, secret agent plot, all while Calvin and his wife, Maggie work on salvaging their fairytale marriage and storybook life. Bob gains a ride-or-die partner and best friend as they drive away into the sunset living happily ever after.

Added feature: cameo appearances by Jason Bateman (Arrested Development, 2003-2013 and Horrible Bosses, 2011) as the high school bully, Trevor and Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars, 2004) who plays Steve, the office schmoozer.

Central Intelligence makes great reference to today's social media platforms and trendy technology. The is a fun and entertaining movie sure to have audiences bellowing with laughter.

Not quite a summer must-see movie (but close), Central Intelligence is filled with comedy, action, twist-and-turn suspense, very little special effects complete with a mix of fun '90s and today's music, and is highly recommended by this film critic.

Stay to the end of the credits and watch hilarious outtakes.

Rating: B-


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