Movie Review: Central Intelligence (2016)

Synopsis: Calvin Joyner was the most popular kid in high school and was voted most likely to succeed. Now stuck in a dead-end job as an accountant with his 20-year reunion approaching, Calvin can't help but feel he has wasted his potential and his marriage is on the rocks as a result.

Things quickly change for Calvin when he reconnects with the bullied high school classmate he showed kindness toward and learns his formerly overweight schoolmate has changed his name to Bob Stone is now a secret agent with the CIA. However, after getting tricked into helping his new friend, Calvin must figure out if he's helping one of the good guys or if Bob is a bad guy.

Who's in it? The movie stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet and Jason Bateman.


Review: I originally got the DVD for this movie through Netflix a couple months ago but, mostly because I wasn't expecting it to be very good (I always am skeptical of comedies), I ended up finding excuses not to watch it. However, realizing we really should send the DVD back and get a new movie, I finally caved in and watched it with my wife last night. As it turns out, this movie exceeded expectations.

The thing that really surprised me about this movie (other than the fact it was actually pretty funny) was the way it kept things interesting and unpredictable by throwing in a bit of a mystery. At first, I assumed Bob Stone (Johnson) was a good guy who was framed. But, as the movie progressed, I found I had my doubts and, ultimately, began to wonder if maybe he was one of the bad guys. And, the movie does a good job of keeping this mystery going until the very end, when Calvin (Hart) has to figure it out on his own.

Johnson, for his part, does an outstanding job his his lead role. I love how the writers had his character transform from high school fat kid to the physically fit secret agent but, at the same time, gave him mental scars and self esteem issues. Not only did this acknowledge the very real long-term effect of bullying, this also kept the movie interesting because it made Bob look mentally unstable and that, in turn, helped with keeping the film from becoming predictable.

My only real complaint about this movie is I wish Calvin's wife (Nicolet) would have had more of a role. She seemed like she had the potential to be an interesting level-headed character with plenty to bring to the movie but, ultimately, wound up getting somewhat limited screen time and never had a chance to reach that potential.

Final Opinion: Johnson and Hart have good on-screen chemistry and the movie winds up being a surprisingly entertaining buddy comedy as a result. The fact it is funny and not nearly as predictable as other movies in this genre make it a film I would recommend seeing.

My Grade: A

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