Rawson Marshall Thurber holds the dubious distinction of being the director whose name most sounds like a generic white guy name from a Key & Peele sketch. He’s also a pretty solid director, having been one of the minds behind Terry Tate: Office Linebacker, DodgeBall, and We’re the Millers, which has developed a surprising cult following in the years since it came out to lukewarm reviews. Now, he’s got Central Intelligence, a buddy spy film starring Kevin Hart and world’s greatest man Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sounds like a recipe for success, but Hart isn’t nearly as big a box office draw as his popularity would have you believe and Johnson tends to be only as strong as the movie around him. This really could have gone either way.
Luckily, we wound up with a winner. Hart and Johnson actually play really nuanced characters, and Johnson especially delivers one of his greatest performances. There’s plenty of cool twists and turns, although some of them really don’t make any sense. I’d say that’s probably my main complaint about the film: the characters’ motivations go out the window as soon as a twist enters the fray. Amy Ryan comments on having broken Johnson’s fingers as part of some cover-up, but it still doesn’t make any sense.
My friend and I observed that a lot of the characters are, shall we say, Deadpool-esque. There’s a “douchebag” character early on in the movie that seemed sort of like a straight guy version of Deadpool. Over the course of the movie, the Rock’s character becomes a non-straight version of Deadpool, which is just Deadpool but bigger. And of course, when Aaron Paul’s character fakes his own death, that’s DeadPaul.
Still, it’s a very funny, surprisingly nuanced movie, with great action to boot. I’d probably rank it a few notches above We’re the Millers, which has grown on me but I still can’t really say I see the appeal of. It keeps you guessing the whole time, even though this is partially due to the occasional detail not really making sense. It’s far from a perfect movie, but I enjoyed it a lot. I’d give it a B+.