Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillam, Betty Gilpin, Mira Sorvino
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…as a mindless action/comedy vehicle, the pairing of Bautista and Nanjiani injects enough life and laughs to keep this extended Uber commercial going.
With its LA-set storyline and throwback to ‘80s era action films like Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs., Stuber is an irreverent, entertaining comedy, orchestrated by director Michael Dowse.
We follow Dave Bautista’s Vic Manning, a detective obsessed with detaining the drug kingpin (The Raid’s Iwo Kuwais) that killed his partner. After receiving a tip on his nemesis’s whereabouts, the hot-headed Vic ropes an unwilling Uber driver called Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) into his chaotic investigation and personal vendetta.
Though never reaching the heights of characters like Riggs and Murtaugh, Vic and Stu make a likeable enough duo. Like their cinematic peers, the combination of quick-fire dialogue (“you’re built for justice. I’m built for brunch”) and antagonistic interplay raises enough smiles, capitalising on Nanjiani’s goofiness and Bautista’s brute force. It’s also a delight to see the latter embrace his comedic talent, after a number of scene-stealing turns as MCU’s Drax the Destroyer.
Unfortunately for Kuwais’s bleached-hair bad guy, the story gives him very little to work with. In a similar vein to Mile 22’s frantic fight scenes, the Indonesian’s extraordinary martial arts talents are badly showcased here; a real shame given his brawls with ex-MMA fighter and wrestler Bautista. The once ubiquitous Mira Sorvino also phones in her performance as Vic’s generic and suspicious police captain.
A couple of serviceable subplots involving Nanjiani’s unrequited love interest (Glow’s Betty Gilpin) and Bautista’s neglected daughter (Santa Clarita Diet’s Natalie Morales) are lost amidst the film’s kinetic storyline. Dropping the two oddball leads in increasingly violent and silly situations, such as a chase through a Sriracha sauce factory or shootout in a veterinary clinic (John Woo doves included). In perhaps the film’s funniest scene, set at Stu’s sporting goods store, Dowse gets to drop in slapstick comedy reminiscent of his underrated sports feature, Goon.
In terms of buddy-cop films, Stuber adds little flavour to the formula. But as a mindless action/comedy vehicle, the pairing of Bautista and Nanjiani injects enough life and laughs to keep this extended Uber commercial going.