With the hit comedies “Dodgeball” and “We’re the Millers” to his credit, Rawson Marshall Thurber, director of Universal Pictures’ new action comedy “Central Intelligence,” was looking to expand his filmmaking repertoire by incorporating a run of action in his next film.
“I’ve loved action movies my whole life and I’ve been wanting to make one since I was about, oh, eight years old,” Thurber says. “This has been a lot of fun.”
“Rawson really understands tone and timing,” Kevin Hart says. “It’s not just the rhythm of the action, it’s how everything meshes. The segues are seamless, the writing is smart, and there were small moments that we were allowed to make big moments because we had a great cast to work with and Rawson gave us the room to play.”
Thurber also wrote the film’s screenplay, with Ike Barinholtz & David Stassen.
As the movie opens, Johnson’s character is introduced in flashback as a hopelessly uncool high schooler with the unfortunate moniker of Robbie Weirdicht. A supersized kid with a gentle soul, he’s easy prey to campus bullies, and is forced to drop out after the irreparable humiliation of being hurled, naked, into center court at a school pep rally.
At the same time, Hart’s character, Calvin – aka The Golden Jet – is Central High’s top athlete and all-around reigning superstar, a guy for whom the sky was the limit and everybody’s best bet for most likely to succeed.
Twenty years later, no one is cashing in on that bet. A risk-averse accountant stuck on the middle rung of the corporate ladder and commanding zero respect from his colleagues, Calvin takes harsh stock of himself as his high school reunion looms: a dead-end job, a marriage on life support and a humdrum existence that hasn’t lived up to its promise. Meanwhile, the doughy loser everyone wrote off as Weird Robbie appears to have successfully reinvented himself as Bob, a confident charmer with a rock-hard physique, the skills and instincts of a CIA operative, and an exciting life that Calvin can only imagine.
In truth, they were never really friends. But that’s how Bob remembers it, based on Calvin’s single act of kindness at that awful rally – offering his letterman jacket for Bob to cover up – and it’s a fine point that nice-guy Calvin is certainly not going to press now that they’re adults and Bob invites him for a beer a couple of days prior to the big reunion. What harm could it to do to spend an evening catching up?
Within hours, Bob’s seemingly casual request for Calvin to analyze some financial data takes a suspicious turn, leading his former classmate into a labyrinth of underground transactions, and a high-stakes plot over stolen encryption codes for the U.S. spy satellite system that could threaten global security.
While his superiors believe Bob is behind this scheme and are trying to bring him in, Bob claims to be tracking the real villain, code-named Black Badger. And despite Calvin’s vigorous denials that he has anything to do with any of this, his home and office are soon invaded by gun-wielding agents; he’s threatened, chased and shot at, and suddenly his life depends upon how fast he can move and how close he can stick to a guy he now wishes he’d never laid eyes on.
“Central Intelligence” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.