If you’re really desperate for yet another odd-couple caper, consider this fast-paced froth that’s almost immediately forgettable. Mild-mannered Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) is a disgruntled accountant who married his teenage sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) yet yearns for the glory days when he was Senior Class President and the town’s most popular jock.
As his 20th high school anniversary looms, Calvin re-connects with Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), a shy, sensitive soul who’s “super into unicorns” and remains grateful to Calvin for a singular act of kindness when he was the once-obese victim of cruel shower-room bullies – which is shown in flashback with lots of inventive CGI.
When now-grown Calvin and Robbie – now known as Bob Stone – meet for a drink, they bond again. But then a CIA bigwig (Amy Ryan) shows up at Calvin’s house, informing him that Bob is actually a former undercover agent gone rogue after killing his partner.
So – is Bob the good guy that Calvin remembers? Or has he gone to the dark side?
Soon, hapless Calvin joins fanny-pack-wearing Bob on-the-run from law enforcement and a complex, high-stakes conspiracy involving the Black Badger that only he can help unravel.
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“We’re the Millers,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) from a script he co-wrote with Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen (“The Mindy Project”), it capitalizes on the chemistry between Hart and Johnson, who display a genuine camaraderie, plus cameos from Jason Bateman, Aaron Paul and others.
While the “role reversal” concept works, the espionage plot is sloppy, the weakest link in the comedic chain of events. And – after the horrific massacre in Orlando Florida – the violent scene in which Calvin’s office is splayed with bullets as onlookers duck for cover seems particularly disturbing.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Central Intelligence” is a sweet, high-spirited 6, revolving around mid-life male anxiety and concluding with an extended epilogue and blooper reel.