Central Intelligence packs both the humor and heart, or rather Hart, and is a fun ride from beginning to end. Starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Kevin Hart, the film follows Calvin (Hart), a voted most likely to succeed high school student, who gets caught up in a CIA investigation when Bob (Johnson) reappears twenty years later after being humiliated during a high school assembly.
The film succeeds as both a comedy and a spy movie, offering plenty of laugh out loud moments and the usual spy film double-crossing fanfare. As a person who isn’t really a fan of Kevin Hart, I was pleasantly surprised with the film’s humor. While new to the comedy scene, Johnson manages to bring the majority of the laughs; and Hart plays off of him well due to their great onscreen chemistry. While with any comedy film, not all jokes will land for everyone, the film had plenty of laugh out loud moments that hit to make up for the few that didn’t. There are also a few fun cameo surprises that are used well in service of both the plot of the film, as well as for laughs. The action scenes are done well too, with Hart’s fish out of water approach working well in these instances; and Johnson easily dispatching people in hand to hand combat is a joy to watch. The film also cleverly addresses the double-agent spy film trope by having Hart attempt to guess who is telling the truth as the film tackles three perspectives.
Central Intelligence also contains a good message against bullying and the traumatic effects it can have on a person’s life. While Johnson’s character looks entirely different twenty years later, he still views himself as who he was twenty years ago and has a hard time with his self-esteem around those who bullied him. These heartfelt moments, as well as Hart’s marriage troubles, provided needed grounding for the film. The anti-bullying message helps make the film less of a throw-away action comedy, and elevates Central Intelligence to a great action comedy.