Sunday, 31 July 2016

Central Intelligence; Chekhov's inflatable gorilla

Central Intelligence is an anti-bullying PSA wrapped up in a bad spy thriller. And when I say “wrapped up” I want to you to imagine an elephant wrapped in a single serving cheese slice.

It’s also a movie in which Snowball gets funnied off the screen by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, which isn’t surprising, but after Kevin Hart’s wonderful turn as Snowball, it was a disappointment to see him doing a generic stressed out middle class black guy straight out of the 80s movie they seem to have wedged their bullying movie into.

Other than that rather obvious point, it’s kind of an amiable mess. It reminded me a lot of Knight and Day, if you could somehow imagine Cameron Diaz being played by a hysterical Kevin Hart while the Rock channelled Tom Cruise. There’s a ditz in over his/her head and an amiable super spy who keeps coming up with ever more lunatic methods to get the ditz out of trouble and closer to the McGuffin. The spy movie end of things feels as though it’s been sitting in a desk drawer for years waiting for a green light; it’s the same old same old notion of a widget which the bad guys want to to buy and the good guys want to keep. The bullying movie is more interesting, but only because the Rock has had his standard brand super hero rewritten to be amiably bonkers. Given that he’s obsessed with movies from the eighties when his character is written to be a teenager in the 1990s, I now find myself tempted to carbon date the script as more than ten years old.

Anyhow, there are occasional jokes, the odd interesting stunt, and an inspired use of an inflatable gorilla which I worked out about ten seconds ahead of time, making me slightly more intelligent than the desired audience for a movie which was advertised with the tag line “You need a little Hart and a big Johnson”.

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