The Enterprise has one ongoing mission, but Universal has another: to cement the Star Trek franchise’s transition from formidable but still rather niche genre property to four-quadrant pop culture juggernaut. To that end, we’ve been gifted with Justin Lin, motorbike stunts (…and we’re still not sold on that, frankly…) and Rihanna’s imminent theme song, Sledgehammer. Check out the clip above ...
After the two Ride Along films, Get Hard, and now Central Intelligence, comic actor, Kevin Hart, appears to be mounting a one-man restage of the mismatched buddy genre. It’s a seemingly generous move from someone as popular as Hart (whose success in the US far outstrips his profile here), but it’s been paying major dividends, with his broad comic stylings running hot in contrast. Central Intelligence, however, represents something of a switch-up, with Hart taking on the straight man role this time out, and putting Dwayne Johnson in the comedic driver’s seat. It’s a happy swap, and coupled with a zippy script courtesy of comic actor (Bad Neighbours, Sisters, The Mindy Project) and occasional writer, Ike Barinholtz, and his regular collaborator, Dave Stassen, and the freewheeling direction of Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball, We’re The Millers), it results in a highly amusing studio comedy.
Per the title, the film’s driving plot involves some form of espionage replete with stolen USB sticks, an online auction for government secrets, and a big time threat to the safety of the USA, and thus the world in general. Never, however, in the history of mismatched buddy movies has a film’s plot been so utterly irrelevant. In short, it’s there to allow for a string of pedestrian action sequences (Rawson Marshall Thurber is no Gareth Evans), and to put the lead characters in situations of extreme laugh-inducing stress. More What About Bob? than Lethal Weapon, Central Intelligence is really about the positive shake-up effect that an off-beat eccentric (in this case, Dwayne Johnson’s hilariously unhinged and unpredictable CIA agent) has on a buttoned down stiff (Kevin Hart’s suburban accountant) becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his lot in life.
The most interesting thing about the film’s set-up, however, is that it reaches all the way back to high school, where Hart’s Calvin Joyner was the most popular kind in school (“If I was scientifically able to have children, I’d want him to be my son,” says the school’s white principal), and Johnson’s Robbie Weirdicht was an overweight (cue hilariously inventive CGI) victim of bullying. After an horrific incident, nice guy Calvin is the only one to help Bobbie out, leading to a long time unrequited bromance, which Bobbie finally “consummates” years later after he’s muscled up and become a point-man for the CIA. The juxtaposition of the big, hulking Johnson playing a guy who has never really emotionally matured (Bobbie still loves unicorns and acts like a kid) because of the shit that he copped in high school is funny, but also laced with pathos. The chemistry between Johnson and Hart, meanwhile, is comedically palpable, and the film would have collapsed without it. While very funny (pop culture references are lobbed about with abandon – Bobbie: “Have you seen Sixteen Candles? I love that movie.” Calvin: “Um, I’m black, so…um, no”), and boasting some riotous cameos, Central Intelligence also packs a rather large and forthright anti-bullying message, which makes it a little more than just your garden variety studio comedy. The surprisingly sweet Central Intelligence is no masterpiece, but it stirs more than a few laughs, and has its heart in the right place, which surely counts for something…
Juliette Binoche and Lou de Laâge are blessed with tremendously expressive faces. For The Wait, a film which operates around the minutiae of mute interaction, suppressed expectation, and repressed grief, they are the all-important factor in the film’s favour.
Anna’s (Binoche) son, Giuseppe, has recently died in an accident. She has barely had time to grieve when his unknowing girlfriend, Jeanne (de Laâge), arrives to spend the summer. Anna is stilted and unable to tell Jeanne the reality of the situation. Jeanne sticks around, getting to know Anna, waiting heedlessly for Giuseppe’s arrival until at last she discovers the truth of the situation by accident.
The Wait is a film where not much happens, and objectively, it never adds up to as much as it seems like it should. While often visually striking, the film’s symbolism is arbitrary, and contributes little in the way of meaningful signification. Certain scenes and threads seem purposefully designed to obfuscate, in fact – red herrings that offer leadless suggestions. Nevertheless, there is still something beguiling about the film: it boasts a beautiful sense of visual mystique, and an emotional honesty in its basic simplicity. Binoche and de Laâge exhibit a synergy which sufficiently fills much of the space left by the gaps where the narrative lacks. The film plays out as much in their expressions and body language as it does in a tangible arc. It is the deep inhabitation of the characters by the actors playing them which suggests real people in a real world with real feelings, and thus renders it legitimately moving. If the weakness of the film is that the sum of its parts culminates in a manner slightly negligible, its strength is that the totality is often exquisite.