Central Intelligence is a movie that smashes up the high school comedy with the spy thriller, as opposed to Grosse Pointe Blank which smashes up the high school comedy with a great cast, wonderful music, and an assassination thriller. The movie stars Kevin Hart as Calvin “The Golden Jet” Johnson who was a universally liked, beloved member of his high school and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was a overweight, unique member of his high school, who was bullied into leaving the school after being thrown, naked, into a school wide assembly. The rest of the cast is essentially there for Hart and Johnson to bounce off of in a plot to discover “The Black Badger”, a terrorist attempting to sell a MacGuffin to other terrorists.
As the Rock and Hart grew up, they took different paths, with the Rock becoming an Agent of the CIA and Hart becoming an international accountant. The Rock has gone rogue from the CIA to find the Black Badger, and the CIA is pursuing him for alleged crimes on his last mission. Hart is brought in because his accounting skills are necessary for the Rock to get in the middle of the deal, but the movie, delightfully, leaves his motives and background ambiguous. The stuff that works is essentially all Johnson. He lights up the screen with personality, completely committed to playing whatever silly scenario comes up, without any regard for self image. He boldly states that he’s into “‘corns” after repeated Unicorn references, and is a complete badass from the moment you meet him. Literally every scene he is in is better for having him, and several times, I asked if we could just get a movie with just that character.
A lot of this movie didn’t work though. Hart is in a marriage from high school with his sweetheart which is on the rocks because no marriage is good at the start of a movie unless the movie is about them falling apart and sometimes getting back together. His wife is essentially involved in three or four scenes in the movie, but the movie attempts to make the whole thing out to be about their relationship. She is also written as not fulfilled until she has a child and her husband is in a happy job, which is disappointing. With this premise, it would have been great to have her figure into a twist or two, or become the McCoy to Hart and The Rock. The movie has no idea how time works. The climax is in Boston at night, and the finale is in Woodlawn, MD the same evening. Those two places are in the same time zone, and the Macguffin is not a teleporter.
I went and saw this movie in a packed theater with people who were excited to see it. It is a fun movie, and you might enjoy it if you try it out. They do a good job of set ups and payoffs, they have the structure down well, and The Rock is by far the best thing on screen right now. I just wish we could get him into better movies.