Central Intelligence, film review: ‘The Rock is a Disney princess inside Terminator’s shell’

Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence - Credit: Archant

The Rock is an inspired choice as a Disney princess inside a Terminator’s shell in Central Intelligence.

Central Intelligence is a strange, ugly but sometimes endearing compendium of American idiocies.

It’s everything you hate about modern Hollywood movies.

It’s loud, destructive, lazy, foul-mouthed, full of high school cliques, pious family values/’we can do it’ homilies spouted through the medium of bullet-sprayed carnage – but maybe that’s a little bit of what you love about them, too.

It’s graceless, but it gets you there.

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It’s a buddy comedy which pairs a comedian (Hart) with an action hero (Johnson) – but there’s a cunning twist: the action hero is the funny one.

It begins at a high school where Hart is the star student, the one voted most likely to succeed, while a CGI version of Johnson is the fat kid that gets bullied.

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Twenty years later, Hart is stuck working as an accountant when on the eve of their high school reunion, muscle mountain Johnson turns up looking for friendship.

Only Johnson is a CIA agent and the pair of them embark on a national security mission.

Hart’s incessant yapping has rarely been entertaining – he’s like a kid on a talent show trying to regurgitate a Chris Rock routine.

But if you leave it running for long enough, his mouth will eventually finds its way to a few sharp lines.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, though, is inspired as the other half of the duo.

He is triumph over adversity, the American Ideal, a man whose childhood traumas threw him into a cycle of relentless physical improvement; but actually he’s still a mess.

Inside the killing machine persona, he seems to have no real idea about his identity.

It’s a quite a brutal vision of American society: one where life is a traumatizing assault course riddled with bullying, constant confrontations and the relentless pressure to live up to unrealistic goals.

As such, getting shot at by the CIA comes as a welcome break.

No wonder Johnson’s character clings to the certainties of 80s high school movies with Molly Ringwald even as he goes about his murderous profession. He’s the embodiment of the perfect modern-day screen protagonist – a Disney princess inside a Terminator’s shell.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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