Central Intelligence

Teaming up with Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson tries his mighty hand at slapstick comedy. Is it an instant classic or a tonally incoherent mess? Brian and Hemal have your answer.

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In ‘Central Intelligence’, Kevin Hart plays a boring middle-class accountant and The Rock plays a weirdly naive man-child who is also somehow a merciless CIA operative. Because Hart was nice to him in high school, The Rock gets him involved in a confusing high-stakes game of murder and subterfuge. Presumably someone is trying to sell the top-secret codes to ruthless international terrorists, because in these kinds of movies someone is always trying to sell the top-secret codes to ruthless international terrorists.

It is perhaps not accurate to say “these kinds of movies”, though, because ‘Central Intelligence’ is all over the map. It’s a spoof, it’s an action-comedy, it’s a buddy-comedy, it’s a lowbrow gross-out satire; it’s a great many things, possibly to the detriment of its coherence as a cinematic work.

Released in 2016, this marks the third film Dwayne Johnson has made with director Rawson Marshall Thurber, a man who relentlessly shoots for the middle. But at least The Rock is doing something than his usual stoic hero routine here, putting in a largely comic turn as a foil to Kevin Hart’s protagonist. Did we buy it? Listen and see.

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