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Central Intelligence Blu-ray Review

Central Intelligence (2016) movie poster Central Intelligence

Theatrical Release: June 17, 2016 / Running Time: 108 Minutes (theatrical), 116 Minutes (unrated) / Rating: PG-13 (theatrical), Unrated

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber / Writers: Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen (story & screenplay); Rawson Marshall Thurber (screenplay)

Cast: Dwayne Johnson (Bob Stone/Robbie Wheirdicht), Kevin Hart (Calvin "The Golden Jet" Joyner), Amy Ryan (Agent Pamela Harris), Danielle Nicolet (Maggie Joyner), Jason Bateman (Trevor), Aaron Paul (Phil), Ryan Hansen (Steve), Tim Griffin (Agent Stan Mitchell), Timothy John Smith (Agent Nick Cooper), Sione Kelepi (Young Robbie Wheirdicht), Dylan Bolack (Trevor - 17 years old), Thomas Kretschmann (The Buyer), Megan Park (Waitress), Slaine (Thugged Out), Annie Kerins (Lady MC), Nate Richman (Big Bro), Robert Woo (Ethan), Kumail Nanjiani (Jared the Airport Security Guard), Melissa McCarthy (Darla McGuckian - uncredited)

Buy Central Intelligence from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Instant Video (Rated, Unrated)

Kevin Hart started showing up in small movie roles. From there, he graduated to ensemble films, often getting to be the comic firecracker in the group in films like Death at a Funeral and Think Like a Man. Along the way, Hart became a star,
his 2013 stand-up comedy movie Let Me Explain having more success than anything of its kind since Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor's 1980s stand-up films.

Since then, Hart has moved away somewhat from ensemble comedies and towards buddy comedies. He teamed with Ice Cube on Ride Along and its sequel, with Will Ferrell in Get Hard, and now with Dwayne Johnson in Central Intelligence. Falling just short of Ride Along's domestic total (and surpassing it worldwide by a large margin), Central Intelligence became one of the bigger hits of the summer and of Hart's flourishing career.

Central opens in 1996 with a prologue that easily stands as its broadest sequence. Among the graduating class of Central High School are obese laughingstock Robbie Wheirdicht (Johnson, his head attached to a fat man's body) and, the pride of the school, Calvin "The Golden Jet" Joyner (Hart). While Joyner is accepting some honor from a principal enamored with his star athlete, Robbie gets bullied and thrown onto the gym floor in the altogether.

"Central Intelligence" stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson as high school classmates who reunite amidst a crisis of national security.

We jump ahead twenty years to find Calvin married to his high school sweetheart (Danielle Nicolet) but still childless and getting overlooked for promotions at his mundane office job. Calvin randomly gets a Facebook friend request from a "Bob Stone", who invites him to grab a drink ahead of Central High's 20-year reunion. Bob Stone is the former Robbie Wheirdicht and he's completely reinvented himself. He's still kind of odd, with his unicorn T-shirt, fanny pack, and jean shorts. But he's full of muscle and now able to stand up to anyone who tries bullying him.

Bob crashes on Calvin's pull-out bed, but not before putting something on his computer to draw heat. In the morning, a handful of CIA agents (led by Amy Ryan) show up looking for Bob, who they accuse of being a rogue agent who has put the security of the entire free world at risk. Hacked satellite codes are on the loose and about to change hands in a big buck transaction. Despite the CIA agents on his trail, Bob claims he's doing the right thing and thrusts Calvin into doing it with him. Meanwhile, the CIA puts pressure on Calvin to help them get their elusive wayward agent.

There's more I could say about the plot, but Central Intelligence is a movie you watch for entertainment value, not story. It's a little better than you might expect in both regards, especially after the trailers leaned heavily on that prologue and painted it as the most inane of buddy action comedies. Obviously, it's no Midnight Run, the film by which everything in this subgenre can be measured (and fall short). But it's on the order of Ride Along and most moviegoers would seem to prefer Johnson to Ice Cube.

Don't be fooled by the unicorn shirt: Bob Stone (Dwayne Johnson) is about to stand up to a table of bullying bros to the excitement of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart).

Perhaps the most unexpected thing here is that the two lead actors are playing against type: Johnson as the wacky weirdo and Hart as the straight man. Each gets their share of chuckles as they either underplay or overplay moments to the film's interests.

Picking up his fourth theatrical credit (and third major studio comedy one), director Rawson Marshall Thurber (We're the Millers, Dodgeball) gets some familiar faces to chip in with bit parts or cameos,
including Jason Bateman as Bob's not really born-again bully, Aaron Paul as Bob's former partner, and Melissa McCarthy as a formerly lazy-eyed classmate. The film is packed full of '90s music, as we're asked to believe that the 44-year-old Johnson could be a contemporary of the 37-year-old Hart. The screenplay by Thurber, David Stassen ("The Mindy Project"), and actor Ike Barinholtz also includes some love for John Hughes' Sixteen Candles, paying it repeated homage in amusing ways.

In fact, the whole thing goes down more smoothly than such a formulaic and seemingly calculated summer vehicle has to. The efforts were rewarded with both better than expected reviews and solid box office in a season when evidently surefire movies like Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, and X-Men: Apocalypse fell short of their profitability benchmarks.

Central Intelligence recently hit home video, not in one of Warner's long-standard combo packs but separate DVD and Blu-ray editions. The Blu-ray presents the film in both its 108-minute PG-13 rated theatrical cut and a new unrated edit running 116 minutes and 26 seconds.

Central Intelligence Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Both cuts: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); Theatrical: Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($28.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($44.95 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video (Rated, Unrated)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Central Intelligence may be medium-budgeted fare, but it sure looks slick on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture is spotless and well-defined, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack will give your home theater a mid-sized workout with its crisp dialogue, immersive sound effects, and contagious '90s needle drops.

Bob's "Sixteen Candles"-inspired finale is given both the alternate/extended scenes and line-o-rama treatment. Dwayne Johnson engages in a dance-off with his high school dance double Sione Kelepi.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Not only does the Blu-ray present the film in rated and unrated versions, it extends the same courtesy to all six bonus features.

First up is an audio commentary by director-screenwriter Rawson Marshall Thurber and editor Mike Sale, which somehow accompanies both cuts of the film. Acknowledging that few will be listening to this,
the two do a good job of informing us about production in a spirited fashion. They point out spontaneous dialogue contributions of Kevin Hart, simultaneously shooting for both PG-13 and R, and the excitement of getting Melissa McCarthy to cameo.

First up, "Alternate scenes" runs just 18 minutes and 7 seconds in the rated section, but a staggering 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 51 seconds in the unrated section. Most of these 18 scenes do exist in the final film but are extended here. Nothing is noticeably better or worse than what's in the theatrical cut, but there are definitely some amusing moments here.

"Line-O-Rama" (2:31 in both versions) features lots of alternate references, including to "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills 90210."

"Dance-Off" (2:26 in both) shows us the overweight Sione Kelepi, the dance double whose head Dwayne Johnson's replaced in the prologue, doing a dance-off with Johnson during the production's wrap at the reunion.

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart crack up in the Central Intelligence gag reel. Crew members hurry to make a bed and change a set for a Dwayne Johnson stand-in in the "Couch Time Lapse."

Rather than bloopers, a gag reel (6:18 in both) features lots of tomfoolery from the cast.

Finally, a "Couch Time Lapse" (0:41)
shows a single shot set change that doesn't noticeably play in the film itself.

The static, scored menu simply adapts poster art.

The Blu-ray opens with a trailer for Sully and a promo for 4K Ultra HD.

An insert supplying your Digital HD with UltraViolet code (and further promoting 4K) is all that joins the plain black disc in the unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

Bob (Dwayne Johnson) and Calvin (Kevin Hart) await the exchange of security codes for money in one of the climaxes of "Central Intelligence."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though you've probably seen other buddy action comedies of this sort before, Central Intelligence still manages to divert consistently as a breezy but sound studio popcorn movie. Warner's Blu-ray goes beyond what's expected with two cuts of the film, an epic unrated alternate scenes section, and plenty of other entertaining extras. If you're looking for some laughs, you could definitely do worse than this.

Buy Central Intelligence from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video (Rated, Unrated)

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Related Reviews:
New to Blu-ray: The Legend of Tarzan The Infiltrator Swiss Army Man Into the Forest
Kevin Hart: Ride Along Think Like a Man Think Like a Man Too About Last Night Grudge Match
Dwayne Johnson: The Other Guys San Andreas Pain & Gain Faster Get Smart
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber: We're the Millers

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Reviewed October 13, 2016.



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