Central Intelligence review – suprisingly successful goofy comedy

Central Intelligence Poster

Action star and former wrestler Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart: it’s a pairing which, on paper, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Their acting styles – Hart’s jittery, syncopated, rapid-fire delivery versus Johnson’s laid-back physicality – are so starkly contrasting that it’s almost like watching two musicians simultaneously playing completely different pieces. And yet in this goofy comedy the casting harmonises perfectly, and a decent but patchy screenplay becomes one of the funnier films of the summer.

Johnson plays Bob, once a bullied, overweight geek, now a physically imposing CIA agent. Hart is Calvin, the high-school golden boy who is now a mid-level accountant. Calvin was one of the few students to show kindness to Bob, and Bob clings to this. Now, days before their high-school reunion, they reconnect through Facebook. And Calvin finds himself roped into international espionage with a man who may or may not be a deluded sociopath.

It’s a plot that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, particularly in the scattershot climax, but the gag rate is so high that this doesn’t matter as much as it should. The main revelation here is Johnson, who pulls off a tricky characterisation that juxtaposes Molly Ringwald fandom and a penchant for unicorns with the ability to rip out a man’s throat with his bare hands.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Wendy Ide, for The Observer on Sunday 3rd July 2016 08.00 Europe/London

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