Sometimes you just have to go to the theatre and watch a movie just to have some good, shallow entertainment. I did not expect this one to be amazing but The Rock and Kevin Hart are both very funny people, especially with each other, so I figured that their chemistry would radiate on-screen despite whatever material they were given. The film is definitely as good as you would expect it would be given the talent behind it. It’s not a masterpiece but it’s certainly a fun action-comedy with two very strong leads and some good supporting talent as well.
The film does not contain a really intricate or thought-provoking plot but it really doesn’t need one. Back in high school, Calvin (Kevin Hart) was the coolest kid in school and Robbie Weirdicht (The Rock) is the fat kid who is constantly picked on by bullies culminating in the most humiliating prank ever when he is pushed out into the gym bare-ass naked. Calvin is the only one that is nice to him and twenty years later, that sentiment is not forgotten as Robbie (now Bob Stone) meets up with him and wants to hang out. Or at least that’s how it appears to be because we soon learn that Bob is now with the CIA and is hoping to get Calvin to use his accountant skills to help him bring down some supervillain known as the “Black Badger.” Oh and let’s not forget about the other CIA agent (Amy Ryan) who is on their tails.
Let’s talk about one of the biggest positives and that is the acting. The Rock and Kevin Hart are fantastic together and it’s quite obvious that they probably became great friends in real life after filming this because their chemistry seems very genuine. Kevin Hart is basically the lead in the film and is more of the “straight man,” who gets most of his laughs with his deadpan reactions and facial expressions to various dangerous situations around him. The Rock, on the other hand, does something a little bit different: he plays a total dork. He is tremendously good at it and it is extra funny to see someone so physically intimidating playing such an aloof and goofy type of character. It was nice to see him step out of his shell a bit. Supporting the two leads are a solid performance from Amy Ryan, who manages to get laughs out of serious situations, and two really fun cameos. One I will reveal is from Jason Bateman, who plays a grown-up bully in the best way possible. The other one is later in the film and was a great surprise.
The comedy aspect of the film was good but again it all goes back to the strength of the two leads and their chemistry because the script wasn’t the tightest while still maintaining a level of a good amount of fun for the movie. It’s not that the script is bad at all but the story is pretty basic and nothing will really surprise you except for maybe a few minor twists and turns. There are some very funny set pieces though: my favourites include a husband-and-wife therapy session with Rock mediating a session between Kevin Hart and his wife and a very thrilling sequence in an office building involving a shootout and several nifty moves and accidental pistol-whips. These sequences work because of the comic timing and the directing of Rawson Marshall Thurber who has experience working with zany madcap sequences like this in movies like Dodgeball.
So if you’re looking for a fun time at the movies with some quality comedic actors (with two very strong leads), some fun action scenes and a few fun cameos then I would recommend you check out this film. I can only hope that The Rock and Kevin Hart get to star in another film together.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)