❉ Kumail Nanjiani’s performance is the driving force of this film, writes Ben Peyton.
Dave Bautista’s gruff, grizzled grumpy cop, Vic, is a man on a mission. Fuelled by revenge, he’s been hunting criminal Teijo (Uwais) for several months and finally begins to get somewhere when an informant tells him of an upcoming drug deal that Teijo’s overseeing. Vic plans to step in, stop him and save the day.
All fairly straightforward, but not if you factor in that Vic has literally just had laser-eye surgery and is crashing around like Mr Magoo on steroids. Unable to think clearly, let alone see clearly, he enlists the help of Uber driver, Stu (Nanjiani). Stu’s desperate to hold on to his four-star rating and protect the electric car he’s leased and so reluctantly becomes Vic’s unofficial partner in a bid to take Teijo down.
What follows is an often predictable, but occasionally hilarious action comedy, held together by superb performances from the two leads, particularly Nanjiani whose turn is worth the admission fee alone. His high-energy exasperation and impeccable comic timing are the driving force of this film and prove the perfect foil for Bautista’s determined, technologically incompetent law enforcer.
Writer Tripper Clancy’s script is frustratingly inconsistent. He explores Vic’s damaged relationship with his daughter, played with gusto by Natalie Morales, and, amidst all the mayhem, there’re moments of surprising tenderness and affection, but sometimes the gags fail to hit the mark. There’s only so many times Vic can walk into things or bash his head before it stops being funny and there’s a sub-plot involving Stu’s love interest, Jessica (Gilpin), that’s purely there to aid his character development and doesn’t warrant any emotional investment at all. Indeed, Jessica isn’t in any way likeable and her relationship with Stu isn’t one to root for.
As with many “buddy” action comedy films, the twists are predictable and the ending is telegraphed way before it happens, but that doesn’t matter because the hard work and effort put in to the build-up makes allowances for that.
Stuber doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but what it does bring is just under two hours of daft entertainment and one performance worthy of a five-star rating.
❉ ‘Stuber’ (BBFC Cert. 15) was released in the UK Friday 12 July. Director: Michal Dowse. Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Mira Sorvino, Iko Uwais and Jimmy Tatro. Running time: 93 mins approx.
❉ Ben Peyton is an actor, voiceover artist, husband and dad. Credits include Band Of Brothers, Holby City, Emmerdale and he was a regular in The Bill. You can find Ben on Twitter – @BenPeyton007 or at his website – www.benpeytonreviews.com.