Back Rowe Reviews
Real Time Movie Reviews from the Back Row of a Theater

Central Intelligence (PG-13)

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson
June 2016

The below comments (in Black) were originally tweeted in Real-time from the back row of a movie theater and appear @BackRoweReviews. Though efforts were made to tease rather than ruin this movie’s memorable lines and moments, some spoilers may exist in the following evaluation (in Red). For concerns over objectionable content, please first refer to one of the many parental movie guide websites. All ratings are based on a four star system. Happy reading!

Central Intelligence
The #GoldenJet gets upstaged by a whale.
#JunkMail Bigger is better, right?
“Black people don’t go to therapy.” Ha!
“You gained it back in muscle.” Lol
The #GoldenJet flip. #EpicFail
Nice use of printer toner in the shootout.
“You hit us!” The therapy session is hilarious. #SoulGaze
“Once a fat kid always a fat kid.” Punch him, Bob.
“The universe provides.” #GoldenJet
#SnakeGyllenhaal Ha!
“I’m the Black Badger.” Similar to “I’m Spartacus.” #
“Bob just went commando.” Hilarious! #MicDrop
Final analysis: a humorous, though farcical, buddy movie with a positive anti-bully message.
2 out of 4. Fans of the two stars won’t be disappointed by this oft silly story, but others...

So the latest in the long string of buddy movies is Central Intelligence, which features action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and comedian Kevin Hart. Though the two become unlikely friends in high school (which we see in a prologue section), the action picks up twenty years later when “Most Likely to Succeed” Calvin Joyner (Hart) hasn’t succeeded and overweight, bully magnet Bob Stone (Johnson) is now an uber-buff CIA agent. Just go with it. Fittingly, the catalyst for the two former classmates being reunited is the occasion of their twenty year high school reunion. The plot kicks into high gear when Stone glad hands accountant Joyner into interpreting a list of offshore bank accounts in order to determine the purchaser of some secret satellite codes that, in the wrong hands, could spell doom for our planet. Clear as mud, right? Of course, most people coming to see this film aren’t expecting an Academy Award caliber screenplay; just Johnson’s patented “pec pop” (you’ll have to wait to the end credits for this) and Hart’s high-pitched, rapid-fire one-liners. Though many of the movie’s storylines and characterizations are utterly daft, there are some redeeming themes here, like: the power of friendship, the reprehensible nature of bullying and the importance of getting therapy (not the Barbershop variety). The anti-bully message has a great deal of relevance since bullying is rampant in our society, especially online and in our nation’s schools. The fact that many bullies remain unrepentant even into adulthood, as Jason Bateman’s obnoxious character illustrates, is despicable and sad. Another meaningful moment is when Stone purposely stalls the plane, forcing a bucket list confession from Joyner. It’s a decidedly ridiculous scene but it does reveal how facing our own mortality brings into sharp focus the things that matter most in life. Though I could’ve done without Stone dancing naked at the reunion, I realize that such scenes were a main draw for admirers of Johnson’s physique. The action scenes, though well choreographed, are occasionally ridiculous, like when Stone and Joyner jump out of a tall building and land on a gigantic inflatable ape…yeah right. Though addled with dunderheaded beats, the story maintains interest throughout and keeps us guessing where Stone’s loyalties lie right up until the very end. Despite the fact that this movie is a mediocre affair and an obvious rip-off of Rush Hour (1998), a sequel seems all but assured. Let’s just hope the next film has a more compelling story…this Intelligence doesn’t live up to its name.