Central Intelligence Movie Review

After four nauseating years, it’s become evidently clear. Kevin Hart is cinematic poison. The script, direction and acting are mediocre. It’s bad when THINK LIKE A MAN TOO is possibly his best role he’s done. I’d like to believe that the general movie going public is sick of Hart’s escapades and will soon begin to demand better, but CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE could be another damning piece of evidence that says otherwise. With that said, Dwayne Johnson deserves better.

Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson in Central Intelligence

Sure. Two decades ago Johnson went by the Rock and put on a cocky, muscle headed, brute persona for the WWE (known as the WWF at the time). But even then, that was a role. In CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE he may just be playing who he actually is, a sweet, fun, and generally caring, individual. Through the ever blossoming magic of CGI, we meet Johnson as a morbidly obese high schooler named Bob Stone at the beginning of the movie.

His solitary moment of singing in the school shower room is interrupted by bullies who pick him up and throw his naked body out onto the gym floor during an all school assembly. Embarrassed and ashamed, Stone never returns to school and disappears off the face of the Earth. That is until he randomly friend requests Calvin (Hart) on Facebook. Calvin was the opposite of Stone in high school. He was popular, an all-state athlete and became the prom king. Eventually he married the prom queen, but he can no longer hang his hat on any of his high school merits.

Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson in Central Intelligence

Calvin is a meandering accountant, failing to live up to the expectations of his classmates that’d be successful. Seemingly stuck in the past, he decides to reacquaint himself with Stone at a bar only to discover that the pudgy teenager is now a hulking mass of muscle. While Johnson’s presence, at any time, is imposing, he’s slightly neutered in CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE. He wears a skin tight unicorn shirt that makes his muscles seem less menacing. He talks about doing shots at the bar like a college sorority girl looking to unwind. But just like a light switch, he beats up some bikers in the bars and disposes of their concealed guns.

Sounds like the makings of a good movie right? That’s what I was fooled into believing in the first 10 minutes of CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE. The screenplay, written by three different people including the director, has no clear direction. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE quickly jumps into a massive international conspiracy without telling us about the conspiracy or the international crime that may have even taken place. Calvin and Bob are so vague on the details and plot points, that every other actor, including Amy Ryan and Aaron Paul, arrive without any reason, purpose, or meaningful title.

Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson in Central Intelligence

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE feels a lot like Harts other half-hearted attempts, RIDE ALONG and RIDE ALONG 2. But what makes it a bar lower is the chemistry between Johnson and Hart. It just isn’t there. Johnson plays a loveable goof, but Hart plays a pessimistic adult going through a midlife crisis, believing he peaked in high school. There’s no real conflict for them to create any jokes off of. Instead the movie deteriorates to playing the race card and Adam Sandler jokes that stem from physical attributes of side characters.

I wish Hollywood would stop giving Hart roles and start giving good ones to Johnson. Johnson has consistently reaffirmed his likeability, even in bad movies. He hasn’t quite reached the fame and ticket sale power that Hart has, but he’s certainly deserving of it. I’m glad that the DC cinematic universe is mulling Johnson as Shazam. He spent years in the wrestling realm proving his capacity as a villain, and I think he’s spent plenty of time on screen proving that he’s a superhero. Hart however has pulled on my final straw.

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