Central Intelligence - A comedy built on The Rock - 3 stars

'See you on the other side!'

Walking into the cinema...
How long has it been since a buddy film had the right mix? Will Hart and Johnson work well together on screen? 

Overall Rating: 3 stars
Cinematic rating: 2.5 stars 
Bigger questions rating: 3.5 stars      

         What do you remember from high school? Was it the highlight or low point of life? Everyone may have different answers to these questions. The same can be said of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) and Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) who had very divergent high school memories. Calvin was voted most likely to succeed and Robbie was bullied because of his size. After graduating from university and marrying his high school sweetheart, Calvin finds himself in an unfulfilling accounting job and living a life filled with regrets. As their 20th high school reunion approaches, he is contacted by someone who says he is an old classmate named Bob Stone. After meeting up with Bob, Calvin realises that this stranger is the former bullied classmate, Robbie, who has transformed himself into a physical colossus. As they get reacquainted and build a friendship, Bob asks Calvin tap into his accounting skills to help him with an international payroll issue. After agreeing to assist his strange new friend, Calvin realises that he has been enlisted to help in an international security issue and that Bob is a CIA agent. Without realising it, Calvin's small gesture of support causes him to be pulled into an internal battle within the agency and he has to determine who to trust.  
       This quirky comedy from Rawson Marshall Thurber the director of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Tale is a nod towards the 80’s where buddy films were uniquely redefined. His inclusion of iconic films from that era allow audiences to look to a time when action comedies were light on story, but full of action and fun. Like these films of the past, he capitalises on the chemistry between Hart and Johnson, which are entertaining and believable despite the far-fetched premise of the film. 
         Kevin Hart’s style does not vary much from film to film and he is reliant on a strong partner to complement his over-the-top antics. This pairing with Johnson is one of the best to date. The Rock proves to be the perfect foil to Hart’s style and buoys the film with his winsome persona and gentle giant performance. The plot holes and lags in the dialogue are forgivable due to the strength of the big man’s multi-layered character. The action and comedy are finely balanced in amongst a narrative that is ultimately is a statement on bullying. 
       Thurber proves that the buddy-cop genre is a celebration of outrageous concepts and improbable pairings that inexplicably come together in the end. His cinematic pairing does not break any new ground, but shows that this well-worn concept can produce fresh ideas when it involves the right cast. Like the buddy films of the past, the dialogue does drag at times, the antagonists prove to be horrible marksmen and the action exceeds the laws of physics and logic. The script unnecessarily relies on sophomoric sexual jokes and course language to propel the story along, but it is tame in comparison to many of the other films on offer this season. Central Intelligence does provide laughs, but after leaving the theatre it may be hard to remember what was really funny which relegates this film to the category of fun, but forgettable.        

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
What is the value of friendship? What can be seen in the Bible is the value of relationships with others. Friends do provide laughs, sounding boards and accountability. These things are all good, but the real gift of friendship is merely knowing that someone is there for you. God has designed this wonderful component of the human experience for our benefit, how are you at being that God-given gift to others? 

What the Bible has to say about friendship: Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, John 15:13

Leaving the cinema...
It made me laugh and brought back nostalgic memories of high school, but it feels like I may have lost a few brain cells by watching this film. It is ironic that intelligence is in the title, because it does not seem to contain much. 

Trailer for the film

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingrevs #centralintelligence , #therock #dwaynejohnson