We've seen some wonderful comedy double acts over the years: Crosby and Hope, Martin and Lewis, Morecambe and Wise, Derek and Clive, Gibson and Glover, Burns and Allen, Laurel and Hardy, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. Now you can add Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart to this illustrious list, because here they form a double act you definitely want to see more of.
The film itself is rather conventional when it comes to story and (slim) plot. Calvin Joyner (Hart) was a hit in high school, a trophy-winning jock voted Most Likely to Succeed. Twenty years on, he's married to his beautiful high-school sweetheart, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet) and has an unsatisfying job as an accountant. The day before his 20-year high school reunion, Calvin gets a Facebook friend request from a man named Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) – who, it turns out, is the former Robbie Weirdicht, a fat and friendless high school colleague who has spent the past two decades working out. Oh, and working for the CIA. But it seems Bob may, or may not, have gone rogue and a team of CIA agents, led by Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) are chasing after him. And everyone is chasing after some missing satellite encryption codes. Bob ropes Calvin into helping him, and so the chase is on.
The thin, formulaic and somewhat messy plot is forgiven by wonderful chemistry between Johnson and Hart – they work so well together as a double act, as good as Crosby and Hope were back in the day. Hart is much more subdued and likeable than he often is in his films, a perfect foil for the sweet and charming Rock. The script seems to just coast along on the chemistry of the two leads, and the film sags a bit when they are not on screen together. But the action scenes are decent and the laughs are thick and solid, including a couple of terrific cameos and a very funny gag reel over the closing credits. Central Intelligence is not as smart as it seems to think it is or wants to be, but there is fun to be had with this little Hart and big Johnson – and you are left with a deep desire to see them make a lot more films together.