By Jon Gallagher
Central Intelligence (New Line, 2016) – Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Writers: Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen (Story & s/p). Rawson Marshall Thurber (s/p). Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul, Ryan Hansen, Tim Griffin, Timothy John Smith, Sione Kelepi, Dylan Boyack, Thomas Kretschmann, Megan Park, Slaine, & Annie Kerins. Color, Rated PG-13, 114 minutes.
Let me begin by telling you that my 14-year-old grandson and my 12-year-old granddaughter both loved this movie. They gave it rave reviews, telling me that it was the best movie they’ve seen this year with all sorts of other superlative adjectives to describe almost two hours of their lives.
Then let me tell you that my grandchildren will never be mistaken for Siskel and Ebert. I will also tell you that when it comes to movies, I’ll never believe them again.
This movie had a lot of potential. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays Robbie, the laughingstock of his high school, a fat, effeminate loser who on the last day of school, gets thrown naked into the middle of the gym by the school jocks during a school assembly. He is saved further embarrassment by the cool kid Calvin, a four-sport letterman who is voted most likely to succeed by his peers, who tosses Robbie his letterman’s jacket to cover himself.
Flash forward 20 years. Calvin is stuck in a dead end job as an accountant. Robbie is now Bob and has spent six hours a day for the last 20 years working out. Oh yeah, and Bob also works for the CIA. He’s got the muscle but he needs straight-laced Calvin’s brain to solve a case and keep the world safe from terrorists.
It had potential.
If you’ve seen the trailers for it, you’ve seen all the good parts. That’s all there is folks; there ain’t no more.
The problem with this type of comedy/action film, it needs to either be really funny or have a real good plot, or (hopefully) both. This movie’s plot has enough holes in it that the captain of the Exxon Valdez could have navigated through it. Kevin Hart thinks he’s a lot funnier than what he is which leads to some rather flat jokes and gags. Johnson is usually good at poking fun at himself, but in this one, he seems to be just going through the motions without any motivation to make it any funnier.
It’s not a terrible movie; it’s just not a very good one. Part of the problem comes from the performances of the ensemble of actors and actresses. Amy Ryan, or at least a mannequin who looks like her, plays an agent who is chasing Bob and it was like she’d been told to play every stereotype associated with a female CIA agent. I can’t believe that the performers got together and decided just to be terrible all at once, so we’re going to lay all the blame for this at the feet of director and writer Rawson Marshall Thurber.
I’ll give this one a D because it did make me chuckle a couple of times and because I heard others saying positive things about it on their way out of the theater. I just can’t bring myself to do anymore than just that. Like I said, it wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t good.