Central Intelligence review: Hart and Johnson have odd-couple charm


Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson.
Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson.

WHO would have thought Dwayne Johnson’s comedic talent and charm was the perfect antidote to Kevin Hart’s manic obnoxiousness?

Central Intelligence is the second buddy feature we have seen Hart in this year (after Ride Along 2), which for some may be two too many and it is only July, but Johnson succeeds where Ice Cube failed in making their co-star tolerable.

After being the most popular guy in school, winning all the awards and accolades and voted most likely to succeed by his peers, Calvin Joyner (Hart) is less than impressed by how his life turned out.

Even though he is married to his gorgeous high school sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet), he is down on himself about his boring office accountant job in which he has been passed over for every promotion.

Reconnecting with school bully target Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), who has transformed from an overweight geek to a muscle-bound one, ahead of their 20 year high school reunion is the shot of fun his life needs.

Except Bob is on the run from the CIA, so Calvin ends up dodging bullets and shifty agents.

That’s the extent of the flimsy plot which could have been scrawled on a lolly wrapper with space to spare, but this familiar odd-couple-buddy story has a certain unexpected charm to it.

What makes the film fresh is its efforts to break stereotypes and its complete disinterest in making Bob or Calvin poster boys for hyper-masculinity amid the action – they are both sensitive, caring blokes and the script never makes fun of them for it.

Despite being a sack of pure muscle 20 years later, Bob still retains his fondness for unicorns – the joke is the juxtaposition of his interests with his appearance, and he is not ridiculed for it.

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber injects some flair into the action sequences while keeping the jokes flowing with consistency.

Even Hart’s frantic rants will draw the occasional chuckle.

Central Intelligence (M)

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Danielle Nicolet

Three and a half stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas now