In mid-June, the film Central Intelligence hit theaters. The movie starred a couple of big names with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart to lead the cast into what looked like a typical action comedy. Rawson Marshall Thurber, whose most recent adventures in film directing were Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and We’re the Millers (among some television credits), helmed the director’s chair. I’ve seen Dodgeball. That movie seemed like another typical Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn silly comedy that appeared to work a little better than this film.
They say in theater (stage plays), comedy is the hardest genre to direct and produce (I should know because I’ve performed in several or been a part of in some capacity through college and such). Because of the sheer fact of the timing of jokes and dialogue and pacing, comedy is difficult. So if it is done right, then the laughs and audience should enjoy it. If the pacing or timing is off, then the show doesn’t quite work as well. Somehow with this film, Central Intelligence didn’t seem to know quite what kind of movie it was supposed to be and therefore didn’t work as well as it could have. It had the makings of an action-drama, but weaved comedy, a touching “love” story, and an overlaying message about bullying in the script, which was penned by Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen. Just as we were getting into the second act (the main thrust of the film) I wasn’t sure what to think about it. And by the end of the film, I was (lack of a better word) confused. I wasn’t sure those elements worked together well for this film. While the film did have moments of touching friendship, laughter and action, it just didn’t work well enough to keep up with the overall story.
The performances by Hart and Johnson were nothing more than ordinary. At times, I felt Johnson’s character just wasn’t sure how to act and it seemed the comedy was a little forced at times (maybe much of the time), which made me feel unsure and even uneasy about the character. Hart’s character was a little more believable, but it still seemed somewhat under par. Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Aaron Paul, and a couple of other big names, Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, lend their talents in cameos. Bateman’s character had a little more screen time than what I would call a cameo, but yet that still didn’t seem to redeem the film. All of the performances appeared to be nothing special here.
The premise, at first, seemed promising. And the overall story was something seemingly “fresh” in buddy action-comedy, but apparent flaws with the script and direction stalled the film from being better than it could have been. The film is rated PG-13 and comes in at about 1 hours and 47 minutes.