Blu-ray Review: Central Intelligence

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One of the funniest movies of 2016, Central Intelligence features Kevin Hart in what amounts to a straight man role, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the showier component of this buddy comedy. That's not to say Hart isn't funny, he just wisely dials back his usual exuberance in order to let Johnson cut loose. If you missed it in theaters over the summer, perhaps thinking it was just a variation on the less-inspired Ride Along series, give it a try now that it's on Blu-ray, 4K UltraHD, DVD, and Digital HD (via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment).

What really works about Central Intelligence is its relatability factor. In a riotous prologue, we meet Calvin Joyner (Hart), nicknamed "The Golden Jet." He's the star of his high school, the number one guy on all the sports teams. As he's being honored at a assembly, obese Robbie Wheirdicht is humiliated by a gang of students led by Trevor (Jason Bateman takes over after the prologue for younger Dylan Boyack). Calvin was the only one sympathetic to Robbie. 
Central Intelligence dwayne johnson.jpg Twenty years later, on the eve of a high school reunion he doesn't want to go to, Calvin reflects on the missed opportunities of his life. He doing fine as an accountant and is happily married to his high school sweetheart Maggie (Danielle Nicolet). But he didn't "conquer the world" as he expected to long ago. If the 18-year-old Calvin could meet the present-day Calvin, he'd consider him a total "loser," the accountant muses. Right off the bat, many of us will find ourselves firmly in Calvin's corner. Hart plays the frustrations with a letter perfect combination of depressed frustration and comedic self deprecation.

Enter Bob Stone, formerly Robbie Wheirdicht, now in the CIA and impossibly buff—explaining his physical transformation with a shrug, "I worked out for hours a day, every day, for the past 20 years." Johnson manages to avoid going completely over the top, delivering a gut-busting performance as the unicorn-loving, fanny pack-wearing secret agent. With corruption in the agency, Bob needs someone with "super accounting skills" to uncover a deep-rooted conspiracy. Naturally, this leads him to Calvin. Amy Ryan is winningly dry as the CIA agent leading a team seeking Bob's whereabouts. He may or may not be the so-called Black Badger. The Badger, responsible for the death of Bob's partner (Aaron Paul), is in possession of government satellite codes and plans to sell to the highest bidder. Is Bob the Badger, as Ryan's Agent Harris alleges, or is he being set up? 

rsz_central_intelligence.jpg Honestly all the action thriller plot mechanics bog down an already longer-than-needed running time (107 minutes in its theatrical form; the Blu-ray includes a 116-minute "unrated cut"). Some of it doesn't even really make a whole lot of sense, but luckily between Hart and Johnson the laughs keep coming steadily. Don't think too much about the plot and just enjoy the impeccable comic timing exhibited not only by the leads, but also a spry supporting cast.

Warner Bros.' Blu-ray offers as sharp a high def image as we expect from a recent studio flick. The DTS- HD MA 5.1 packs serious punch, so much so that I had to keep the remote handy to jockey the volume between dialogue-based and action-based scenes.

Lots of bonus materials round out the Blu-ray, including nearly 20 minutes of alternate scenes. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're The Millers) provides audio commentary. There's also the montages typically found on comedies these days: gag reel, "Line-O-Rama." We get a "Dance Off" between the older and younger Robbie and a mini-featurette detailing the "Couch Scene."

Central Intelligence boasted kind of a weak trailer and just sort of blended in with the onslaught of summer movie product. Turns out it's a hugely entertaining comedy, a hilarious showcase for Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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