3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

(M) Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Jason Bateman

What do you remember from high school? Was it the highlight or low point of life? Everyone may have different answers to these questions. The same can be said of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) and Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) who had very divergent high school experiences.

Calvin was voted most likely to succeed and Robbie was bullied because of his size. After graduating from university and marrying his high school sweetheart, Calvin finds himself in an unfulfilling accounting job and living a life filled with regrets. As their 20-year high school reunion approaches, he is contacted by someone who says he is an old classmate named Bob Stone. After meeting up with Bob, Calvin realises this stranger is his former bullied classmate, Robbie, who has transformed himself into a physical colossus. As they get reacquainted and build a friendship, Bob asks Calvin to tap into his accounting skills to help him with an international payroll issue. Calvin soon realises he has been enlisted to help in an international security issue and that his strange new friend is actually a CIA agent. Without his knowledge, Calvin’s small gesture of support causes him to be pulled into an internal CIA battle and he must determine who to trust.

This quirky comedy from director Rawson Marshall Thurber(Dodgeball) is a nod towards the ’80s where buddy films were uniquely redefined; a time when action comedies were light on story, but full of action and fun. Like those films of the past, Thurber capitalises on the chemistry between Hart and Johnson, who are entertaining and believable despite the far-fetched premise of the film.

Hart’s style does not vary much from film to film and he is reliant on a strong partner to complement his over-the-top antics. Johnson proves to be the perfect foil to Hart’s style and buoys the film with his winsome persona and gentle giant performance. The plot holes and lags in the dialogue are forgivable due to the strength of the big man’s multi-layered character. The action and comedy are finely balanced amid a narrative that, ultimately, is a statement on bullying.

Thurber proves that the buddy-cop genre is a celebration of outrageous concepts and improbable pairings which inexplicably come together in the end. His cinematic pairing does not break any new ground, but shows that this well-worn concept can produce fresh ideas when it involves the right cast. Like the buddy films of the past, the dialogue drags at times, the antagonists prove to be horrible marksmen and the action exceeds the laws of physics and logic. The script unnecessarily relies on sophomoric sexual jokes and course language to propel the story along, but it is tame in comparison to many of the other films on offer this year.

Central Intelligence provides laughs but, after leaving the cinema, it may be hard to remember what was really funny about it. As such, Johnson and Hart’s buddy comedy is relegated to the category of fun, but forgettable.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

What is the value of friendship? What can be seen in the Bible is the value of relationships with others. Friends do provide laughs, sounding boards and accountability. These things are all good, but the real gift of friendship is merely knowing that someone is there for you. God has designed this wonderful component of the human experience for our benefit. How are you at being that God-given gift to others?

What the Bible has to say about friendship: Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, John 15:13

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