This film’s Hart has some clever pairing

by Dave O'Connor

IF YOU are looking for a feel-good hit of buddy-movie comedy, the odd couple pairing of Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson are winning cinemagoers over in Central Intelligence.
Two decades on from his high school graduation, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is adjusting to a life where things did not work out as planned.
Enigmatic, athletic, and unequivocally voted as the Most Likely to Succeed, Calvin was a standout amongst his peers, but somehow lost his mojo along the way.
A 20th anniversary class reunion finds Calvin back in touch with his former schoolmate, Bob Stone (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), whose journey since high school has taken him on an opposite trajectory.
Once the victim of bullies, Bob has transformed into a crime-fighting Adonis who claims to work undercover with the CIA.
“I just did one thing to change,” he confides to the awestruck Calvin. “I worked out for six hours a day, every day, for the past 20 years”.
Bob brings all manner of chaos into Calvin’s life as he insists that only Calvin’s unique actuarial skills can help him stop some illicit deal that threatens the free world.
The humour may be aimed low, but you cannot deny its masterful precision. Much of what works about Central Intelligence rests on the on-screen buzz between its two stars.
The great chemistry is kept alive through a rapid pacing from Dodgeball director Rawson Marshall Thurber.
The story thrums along quite nicely for the first 45 minutes or so, revealing some plot twists that keep us guessing as to Bob’s true intentions.
There’s good support from Amy Ryan, who plays a CIA agent who is tracking Bob, and some cameos from Jason Bateman and Aaron Paul.
As the latter half of the film descends into near nonsense, you will probably lose much interest in who may be double-crossing who and for what reason, but will be happy to see the plot eked out just to get a little more of the great chemistry between Johnson and Hart.
You’ll find such moments, but by the end things have turned too outlandish and you get the impression that even a tighter edit could not have tidied up a slightly hackneyed finish.
Regardless, Central Intelligence is a fine summer comedy that delivers a lot more than it might seem at first glance, and brings out two great performances from its stars.
Verdict: 6/10

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