15 – 108mins – 2016
BETWEEN THE ROCK AND A HART PLACE
Utilizing some truly impressive Captain America-esque CG de-aging, we witness tubby brace-face Robbie Wheirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) hauled out of the showers and humiliated at a pep rally in front of his entire high school. Popular all-round cool kid Calvin Joyner (Kevin Get Hard Hart) is the only one to comfort the naked nerd.
Fast forward two decades, and having long since plunged from his peak of marrying his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet), the man formerly known as the “Golden Jet” is now a bored middle-manager accountant reluctant to attend his school reunion. Accepting a friend request from an unrecognised name, Calvin is totally unaware of what he is letting himself in for…
Having worked out for six hours a day, every day (“Anyone can do it!”) and changed his name, Robbie Wheirdicht has reinvented himself as tattooed man mountain “Bob Stone”. He may still like fanny packs, unicorns and Twilight, but Bob absolutely abhors bullies – oh, and he’s a top CIA agent.
Hart sticks to his successful Ride Along mould of screechy, irritating everyman sidekick, this time dragged along on a top secret undercover spy mission by the amiable-but-deadly peck-flexer who requires his former classmate’s accountancy skills in unlocking satellite codes being sold in a bidding war on the black market.
Directed by We’re The Miller’s Rawson Marshall Thurber, Central Intelligence really sparks to life when the mismatched flip-reversed duo are sharing memories and trading bantz, but the double-crossing, espionage malarkey involving rogue agent the “Black Badger” is so perplexingly conveyed that half the time you’re never sure who to plump for as bullets fly and Amy Ryan’s Agent Harris tries to lure Calvin away from under Bob’s wing.
A tortuous interrogation scene between two purported good guys is particularly tonally awry – a major crux to any comedy is when questions over the moral validity of the joker overwhelms the power of the punchlines. Crucial targets are then missed.
A trio of “I never knew they were in this!” big name cameos (who I won’t name here) bring some light relief to the deluge of fisticuffs and shoot-outs, but for all its big, flashy, fast-mouthed fun, much like Calvin Joyner, Central Intelligence never quite lives up to early promise of its full potential.
CR@B’s Claw Score: