The summer blockbuster release slate is often varied. You can expect a few by-the-numbers action flicks (soon to be served up by the Fast and Furious franchise) and more often than not you’ll get a mainstream buddy comedy led by a few a-listers, or up and comers, this year this is brought to us by this film.
Dave Bautista leads the cast as it’s star. A very unexpected breakout star over the last few years, as the number of ex-wrestlers who’ve made a successful film career can be counted on one hand, the two stand-outs are Dave, and Dwayne Johnson, and at least Bautista does different things from time to time.
It’s not a particularly high-concept film, the unlikely duo buddy comedy is as well-worn a trope as any, especially in the department of ‘big-guy cop, and small-guy partner’ its setup is anything but fresh, but what’s it like in execution?
Ric Manning (Dave Bautista) is a veteran cop who loses his partner while chasing a drug dealer, causing him to obsess over the case, while fighting his own failing sight. He is taken off the case but soon commandeers an Über, driven by Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) and jumps back on the case.
As a film, Stuber is somewhat of a mess. Cobbled together from aspects of other films and held together by cliches. It redeems itself somewhat in the performance department, however, as the Buddy comedy lives and dies on its central duo’s chemistry, Bautista and Nanjiani are a very watchable pair, who seemingly force joy into the film at every opportunity, even if the film runs out of steam in the end.
There’s very little wit and subtlety about the film as a whole, not that we expected much subtlety, but the failing eyesight angle is an unexpected, yet underused aspect of the character, it is used fleetingly when the film remembers that it needs to make it seem like he’s under threat, but takes a back seat through most of the run time.
A comedy film lives and dies on the amount of laughs that can be derived from it, and it does fairly well, helped by the performances of its leading duo, Bautista has immaculate comedic timing, as seen in the MCU, and Nanjiani gets a few funny one-liners. The main problem is it all seems so inconsequential as a film.
Sure, nobody expected this film to be groundbreaking, but there are times when it feels like it’s not even really trying. The action sequences are lazy and unimaginative, the side characters are paper-thin, and the token twist is completely nonsensical in delivery.
In conclusion then, aside from a dynamite leading duo, this film has very little to offer apart from that besides a few throwaway laughs. It isn’t an experience that will stick with you, at best it’s merely forgettable, at worst it’s insufferably flat film that’s overly pleased with itself, regardless of its laziness, and overall lack of imagination.