The best bit about this movie is either the tagline – “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson”, riffing perfectly on the actors’ names and relative heights – or the outtake scene shown over the closing credits where Hart makes a joke about ‘stupid made up names, like The Rock’.
Between those, we have a not-entirely-original story about the bullied fat kid in high school growing up to be Dwayne Johnson and joining the CIA. Meanwhile, school hero Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) has entirely failed to live up to his own potential, now bored and dissatisfied as an accountant. On the day he’s passed over for promotion again, he accepts a random friend request on Facebook, and suddenly finds himself sucked into the world of international espionage. The question is, is friend Bob the good guy or not?!
As I said, it’s not a new idea, but quite a fun one. And I think the reason I ended up not really liking this movie was that it just wasn’t as fun as I think it could/should have been, given the set up.
Two reasons this didn’t work for me: first, I just didn’t find Kevin Hart funny. I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything before, but the fart jokes weren’t amusing to begin with and too often he was allowed to just keep talking past even a vague sense of humour. His character is terribly whiny, too: all that potential, wasted. Yes, the life lesson over the course of the movie is part of the point, but still – guy needed a bigger slap from the get-go.
Secondly, the spy character of Bob was just too idiotic. At first I assumed it was an in-film act – well, unicorn t-shirts and ‘fanny packs’, c’mon! – and kept waiting for the overly-long set up scenes to play out, but the over eager puppy voice continued way passed the point where it wasn’t like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Again, there’s a character arc over the movie, but it was just ridiculous thinking someone that lacking in confidence could be an international spy, tbh. It reminded me a bit of Tom Cruise’s character in Knight and Day – again, just can’t take trained killers being quite so dippit.
Central Intelligence is an out-and-out wanting to have fun movie, and from reviews I think a lot of people enjoyed just that. Alas, I think I was maybe just expecting a more usual ‘Dwayne the Rock Johnson’ badass role, and the slightly soppy diversion from that didn’t appeal to me so much. It feels dangerous to be left wanting to slap some sense into a character with quite so many bulging muscles…
Shout out, though, to some fab cameos from Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman.
Released: 29th June 2016
Viewed: 1st July 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
My rating: 4/10 – harsh, but when you want to slap both lead characters it’s not going to do well with the ratings!