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dir Tim Story
scr Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
prd Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Larry Brezner, William Packer
with Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter, Laurence Fishburne, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Dragos Bucur, Gary Owen, Jacob Latimore, Jay Pharoah, Benjamin 'Lil P-Nut' Flores
release US 17.Jan.14, UK 28.Feb.14
14/US Universal 1h39
That's a big explosion: Cube and Hart
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Fast and loud and very stupid, this action-comedy sticks close to the formula, never surprising us with anything. But even if we don't doubt for a second where it's heading, there's a certain amount of entertainment to be had watching the characters bounce off each other.
Undercover Atlanta cop James (Cube) and his partners (Leguizamo and Callen) are in trouble for staging a massive shootout and car chase to arrest a passport counterfeiter. Looking for a distraction, he invites diminutive gaming addict Ben (Hart) on a ride-along to see if he's ready to start police academy and to prove that he's worthy of James' sister Angela (Sumpter). Then what starts as an exercise in humiliation takes a surprising turn as the hapless Ben stumbles into James' most important case, hunting down mythical arms dealer Omar (Fishburne).
Hart's amusingly fast-talking patter saves the film, even when it gets corny and obvious. Even so, Ben is far too cocky and gung-ho forcing Hart into some deeply lame slapstick and set pieces that strain even the thinest notions of credibility. Opposite him, Cube almost convinces us that he's tough and mean, but Fishburne lends a bit of weight to his scenes. Meanwhile Sumpter, virtually the only woman on-screen, tries to show some spark before ending up in the expected plot trap.
The main culprit here is achingly simplistic writing and directing that almost sabotages the only person we remotely like on-screen. Ben becomes far too arrogant and stupid to believe before shifting into a semblance of a human being as the plot kicks in. Of course, we know from the start that he will help James crack the big case, prove that he's up to the job and help James soften a bit. So there's no real reason to watch the rest of the movie.
That said, it's snappy enough to hold our attention and occasionally raise a smile. It's also mindlessly entertaining if you find reckless endangerment hilarious. But let's be honest: this is lazy filmmaking merely falls back on wacky gags, brutal violence and huge explosions when it doesn't know what to do next. It'll also inspire a generation of nerds who think videogames makes them fit for real-world action.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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