Reel Reviews: Central Intelligence

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“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a saying that couldn’t be any more factual. At first glance, something may not appear to be what it would seem, and then once a person sees what it truly is, they may think differently on it.

This saying applies to Central Intelligence, the new action-comedy film that stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Why does that saying apply to this film, you may wonder? Well I will say that the trailer did not appeal to me at 100 percent, with the part of an overweight guy with The Rock’s obviously superimposed face singing along to En Vogue’s Never Gonna Get It in a school shower. However, this film had a lot more going for it despite that unpleasant image from the trailer, and there were some aspects that appealed to me enough to also want to see it.

The film’s plot is rather simple: Calvin Joyner (Hart) is miserable in his life as an accountant, he doesn’t feel successful since he had graduated from high school, where he was the most popular guy on campus and “the Most Likely to Succeed.” At some point he meets Bob Stone (Johnson), formerly a bullied high school outcast who is now a CIA agent, and they catch up on old times. That is until Stone lures Joyner into the world of international espionage.

Another thing about the trailers is that it looked like another Ride Along film, and I don’t mean because of Kevin Hart being in this film. It felt like something similar because Johnson played a tough government agent. However, what separated this from the Ride Along films is that The Rock’s character was a lot different as while he is a physically-imposing spy, he is also a sensitive and somewhat awkward person at first. Hell, he wears a fanny-pack like it’s still the 1990s and rocks a Public Enemy T-shirt. Nothing wrong with those, just an observation. Hart’s character, on the other hand, was actually reluctant to have been lured into the mission in the film. If anything, Hart was the straight man in this film in comparison to the Ride Along films.

However, what made this film work in a lot of ways is the chemistry between Johnson and Hart, not to mention the comedic range that Johnson has. The Rock has shown that he could do comedy in other films he has done and every time him and Hart were on screen together, there were a lot of funny moments that came from them. Some other funny moments included some relatively impossible stuff like being really quick and ahead of someone. For example, one scene had Stone sleeping on a couch in a messy room one moment and then right after that he was not only gone but the room was clean.

I did have a problem with the writing of the film, though. Now I did not go in expecting anything original, but there were moments that seemed cliché, albeit predictable. I saw it coming from a mile away that a seemingly dead character who was mentioned at various points of the film was going to be alive.

I have to say that with the run-of-the-mill story, the chemistry between Hart and Johnson saved this film overall. It was a nice change of pace to see Kevin Hart play the straight man to Dwayne Johnson’s quirky, yet badass action hero type. While the film could have been a lot of better, the comedic dynamic from the two leads made this movie watchable.

Score: 3/5

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About Emanuel Espinoza (11 Articles)
Emanuel is a (photo)journalist, writer, photographer, comic/movie nerd and a hip-hop fan. He has experience writing for a college newspaper and a community newspaper. He has a passion for the arts and likes to cover things related to that subject.

1 Comment on Reel Reviews: Central Intelligence

  1. Agree with your review — the chemistry of the leads totally saved the movie for me. I was also turned off by the trailer because I thought it was poking fun of the “fat kid.” I was pleasantly surprised that the movie had such a strong anti-bullying message. So yeah, don’t judge a book by its cover indeed! — Louisa

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