Central Intelligence Reviews: Critics Weigh In on Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart Action-Buddy Comedy
Ready for a little softer Rock?
Critics certainly were after watching “Central Intelligence.” They lavished Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for showing off comic chops tinged with pathos in an otherwise by-the-numbers action comedy with the dependably solid Kevin Hart.
Although the reviews were decidedly mixed, as long as you mostly like Johnson and Hart and don’t want to think too much this weekend, that 61 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes will feel misleadingly low. A sampling from the world’s critics:
“It’s a mostly dumb but often weirdly sweet action comedy about bullies, high-school friendships and grown men who still love John Hughes movies” — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
Dwayne Johnson’s Performance Shines, According to Central Intelligence Reviews
What gives the movie its boost, most critics agree, was Johnson, playing the once-bullied fat kid Bob who transforms himself into a muscular government agent who still harbors high school insecurities.
“He’s like a big, strange, overcaffeinated puppy — albeit a ridiculously lethal one. … If it isn’t his most satisfying big-screen performance, it’s a close second to 2013’s otherwise-forgettable ‘Pain & Gain'” — Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal
“Underneath all that muscle, a comedy star is wrestling to get out, and he’s finally emerged” — Adam Graham, The Detroit News
Also shining is Hart as a former Big Man on Campus named Calvin who’s now stuck in a rut until Johnson recruits him to foil a deadly plot.
“Hart, too, is dependably funny and jittery as Calvin. … As always, Hart also gives his character a heart: Calvin’s promising youth has devolved into workaday adulthood, so maybe a little adventure is exactly what he needs” — Rafer Guzman, Newsday
Where “Central Intelligence” falters, many critics say, is in its reliance on buddy movie cliches.
“‘Central Intelligence’ always takes the lazy way out. You go along for the ride because Hart and Johnson promise something they can’t deliver: a movie as funny as they are” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone