Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Written by: Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Ryan, Aaron Paul, Danielle Nicolet
Reputations in high school typically stem from the most surface-level aspects of a person. Usually, it falls on who plays the popular sports, has comedic timing, or simply has the most attractive figure. The superficiality of this hierarchy results in those not seen as popular to be mercilessly bullied, but when reunion comes around, these bullies might be surprised to see what they become. Life is more than who we were in high school, which Central Intelligence shows.
Formerly being the most popular kid in school, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) now lives as an accountant and has no motivation in life. He unexpectedly reunited with Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson), who has an incredible physique after being bullied for his size and demeanor in high school. Stone reveals himself to be a CIA agent and requests the help of Joyner.
Whenever a Kevin Hart or Dwayne Johnson-led film hits the market, you can expect their respective comedic and physical talents to make even the most mediocre scripts into something enjoyable. Combining them together in one film makes for the ultimate “it’s fine” film. Central Intelligence brings forth a very simple story and it might provide you with a few laughs, but if one comes to this film looking for any true empowering message, it will not be found here.
The character of Bob Stone becomes the ultimate revenge fantasy for anyone bullied in high school. He used to be overweight and not confident but as he has grown as an adult, he has the body of Dwayne Johnson. I understand the point trying to be made here but it does not get to the core of the issues Bob faces, which comes from his insecurities. The mental damage bullying leaves on someone can last for far longer than the years they spent in high school. Even with Bob having the physique one could only wish to have, he still fights not having the confidence one would expect of someone who looks like him.
Comedically, the film works on a good level with the number of jokes laid out on Bob about how dorky he is after all of there years. Even with this new physique, he still wears jeans shorts, better known as “jorts.” Dwayne Johnson becomes a great person to take on this role, as he knows how to play goofy, which always works with him because of his incredible size. He utilizes the incredible physical appearance he bears with the insecurities of his character in a proficient way.
On the other hand, we have Calvin Joyner portrayed by Kevin Hart. He had it all in high school and now struggles to find enjoyment in life. He has everything one could want: a high-paying job and a wife, who loves him dearly. Something in him still does not allow him to fully enjoy the life he has carved out for himself. It could be described as another case of a guy who peaked in high school, but I find that label to be inaccurate because he lives a good life at the start of the film. The prospect of helping Stone in this CIA mission becomes enticing for him because it adds something new to what he sees as a stagnant life.
The mission this story follows does not bring any originality and much of it remains fairly predictable but the comedy of Stone trying to protect Joyner throughout the mission ultimately becomes the sell. One, because of the sheer size difference between Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson but also due to the ridiculous circumstances they find themselves in. It makes for a story with a good amount of twists but not anything you could not see coming from a mile away.
Overall, Central Intelligence can serve as basic and fun entertainment. I would not necessarily tell anyone to seek out this film, but if you come across it and you have nothing better to do, there are worse ways to spend 108 minutes. It allows Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart the ability to have some fun together and they develop a good amount of chemistry as this unlikely duo. It provides a decent amount of laughs and will satisfy anyone seeking a fine comedy to pass the time or have something in the background.