The Rock and Kevin Hart are having so much fun — it’s infectious.
There are more holes in the plot of Central Intelligence than there are in an average kitchen sponge, but it doesn’t matter. The action scenes are poorly shot, but it doesn’t matter. The character arcs are flatter than plywood, but it doesn’t matter. What matters the most is that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart are having a blast acting in the fast-paced, ridiculous buddy crime comedy, Central Intelligence, and their exuberance is infectious, making this film a satisfying viewing experience.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of Johnson or Hart, you can’t deny their hilarious on-screen chemistry. Johnson plays Bob Stone, a man-child CIA agent with a fanboy-type appreciation for his former high school classmate, Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart). They have a short but significant history with each other and that ends up getting Joyner, now an accountant, in an international espionage mess with Stone. One of the major themes of Central Intelligence is the widespread bullying epidemic in America, and while the film doesn’t exactly add any worthy viewpoints on the subject (aside from ‘bullying is bad’), there are a few touching moments in which we see how past instances of bullying have lasting effects.
You may think, going into seeing Central Intelligence, that Hart will be the wacky sidekick to Johnson’s, well, stiffness. Quite the contrary! Here, Johnson is the loose, excitable and childlike, yet deadly agent, and Hart is the stiff everyman who gets mixed up in CIA business. Hart is still very funny and has a bunch of zingers, including the one worthy F-bomb that a PG-13 rating allows. Johnson, however, steals every scene with his muscular presence and disarming smile, going the extra mile to sell every single line of dialogue he has.
The problem is that what you see in Hart’s character and Johnson’s character at the beginning of Central Intelligence is practically the same as what you see at the end of the film. The two of them just sort of get to know each other, rather than change themselves (or each other) in any significant way. The flatness of the character arcs does leave the film devoid of any emotional staying power — but then again, you’re having too much fun to notice.
Central Intelligence opens on Friday, June 17th.