Central Intelligence, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart is an important milestone movie. As well as being very funny and well made, it marks the point when Johnson has transferred fully from the Wrestler who can act to the movie star who used to wrestle. Everything he does in this film is effortless and done with a confidence you have not seen since Schwarzenegger in Total Recall.
The film itself is a buddy cop movie, easily on a par with the recent Jump Street reboots. Johnson plays Bob Stone, a CIA agent who was terribly bullied at school when his name was Robbie Whierdicht and he was overweight. Kevin Hart plays Calvin Joyner or CJ the Homecoming King from High School. Unfortunately for CJ things have not progressed from High School and he feels he has peaked. He is in a dead-end job as an accountant, watching his assistants and others get promotions before him. Luckily he is still married to Maggie, the Homecoming Queen but even she earns more than him and is more successful. At this point, he receives a random friend request on Facebook and meets up with Bob Stone.
Right from their first moments together on screen Johnson and Hart show great chemistry. The big guy, little guy combination has been done to death but here the little guy is actually the ‘Jock’ of the two. CJ was the achiever in school, on all the sports teams and completely successful. He has the attitude and experience to seem cool. Usually, the larger man is the athlete and leader. In this film, Stone’s favourite film is Sixteen Candles. Enough said.
CJ and Stone continue the jokes throughout the film distracting the viewer from the darker message the film is putting forward regarding bullying and the lasting effects it can have on people. One scene later in the film sees Stone confront the bully who tormented him so badly in school. Despite being the perfect human specimen and confident in all his abilities, the sight of the bully makes him regress to his former, broken self. Johnson plays this role very well, showing a softness to his characters that his physical appearance hides. Comparing his role to his first of this kind in the underrated Get Smart, Johnson shows how far he has come as an actor. He combines his character from that film with the fat kid hiding inside. In a way, he draws from his experiences as a wrestler, when he wasn’t always accepted by the fans. It took a long time for him to become the global superstar he is today and with performances like this he shows he has the real-life experiences to make it look real.
Kevin Hart also plays his character brilliantly, most people identify with the person who had so many hopes and dreams only to end up in an office cubicle. Office cubicles and call centres are the factories of the modern age so you can sense the frustration in Hart. When he goes back to the high school and sees how he was once the ‘Golden Jet’ complete with a trademark backflip, the pain in his eyes hits home to viewers of a certain age.
Despite the two hours running time the film goes by quickly actually leaving you wanting more. As usual, there is a small break between the two main characters where the film slows down. It is a testament to the actors that you miss the exchange between the two. Thankfully it is soon over and tings head to a climax. Without ruining the plot, there are a number of cameos in the film that would be welcome in a sequel. Time will tell but in the meantime disengage your analytical brain and be entertained for a while. Hopefully, you will enjoy it as much as the cast look to have enjoyed making it.