Central Intelligence - Screen Fantastique film review
By Mark Geraghty June 22, 2016
The film kicks off with a prologue that takes the audience back to 1996. Robbie Whycliffe, an upbeat but naive black kid (a CGI version of an overweight, teenage Dwayne Johnson) is taking a shower in the boy’s locker room. Unbeknown to him, a group of classmates are about to pull a cruel prank that will shape the young kid’s life. In the school gymnasium, the Senior Year are celebrating the end of High School, led by an impromptu valedictory speech by all-round favourite guy, Calvin Joyner (a slightly less made-over CGI version of a teenage Kevin Hart, by comparison to Johnson…) Joyner’s speech is interrupted by Robbie’s tormentors throwing him buck-naked onto the gymnasium hall floor in front of a packed house of students and staff. Joyner, being the good guy he is, rushes to Whycliffe, handing him his Letterman jacket to cover himself. Before he disappears, Robbie, despite his absolute humiliation, still manages to mouth a “Thank You” to Calvin. The story jumps forward to the present day and the eve of Joyner’s 20 year High School reunion, an event he’s not especially looking forward to. Despite having married his High School sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) and forged a career as a Forensic Accountant, Calvin feels as though he hasn’t fulfilled the potential everyone thought he would. The prospect of being confronted with classmate’s questions about “what are you up to these days?” is too much for him to bare. In the midst of his funk, Joyner receives a Facebook request from “Bob Stone”, a Senior from Joyner’s year. Upon meeting up with Stone, Calvin is shocked to find that it’s actually Robbie Whycliffe and he’s a changed man in every sense of the expression.
Central Intelligence is not the cleverest or the most poignant comedy that has ever graced cinema screens, but it has energy, thanks to the pairing of Hart and Johnson. The film takes the right amount of time to get to the point where the duo are paired up, and their “mission” doesn’t drag on for so long that there’s not enough time at the end to provide an epilogue that satisfactorily rounds out the events that occur in the film’s opening scenes. Johnson’s physical presence literally takes over the last part of the film that involves an unexpected cameo and provides a sequence of extremely funny out-takes over the top of the end credits. It’s hard to classify the film as an Action-Comedy or a Comedy-Action, as there’s almost an equal amount of both and the leads are called upon to step-up and deliver on all fronts. In today’s franchise-driven cinematic output, it’s nice to get a film that doesn’t deliberately use its “parts” to feed into something greater than the immediate story it’s trying to tell. Central Intelligence is a simple story, but executes it extremely well and, in the process, has brought together a great lead pair who audiences would be happy to see how their further adventures play out!
Central Intelligence is out in cinemas on June 23, 2016.
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