“STUBER” is coming to theaters this weekend starring Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani. This is an action-comedy directed by Michael Dowse centering on a detective that is trying to capture the elusive crime-lord that killed his partner. This detective also has eye troubles and after a recent surgery he still cannot see properly. So, he will enlist the help of an unsuspecting Uber driver when he gets a tip that could finally lead to this villain’s capture.
Now if you have watched the trailers you should know pretty much what to expect from this one. It doesn’t break the genre formula. The story is a plug-and-play variation of the usual tropes, and the progression is admittedly predictable. The character-arcs for the most part, are familiar as well. But on the other hand, this film doesn’t really sell itself as being anything but all of these things. It’s a textbook buddy-comedy promising a collection of laughs as well as some adrenaline pumping action, and that is exactly what it delivers. Only in this instance, I think it was able to surpass my tempered expectations with consistently effective humor, and surprisingly capable action-sequences.
I had a good time with Bautista and Nanjiani as the odd couple. Bautista was able to carry the action side of things, and Nanjiani was great as the comedic lead. They both had moments of stretching into the others wheelhouse and it was genuinely entertaining. Bautista didn’t hit all his comedic beats, but he landed many of them with hilarity through his gruff sense-of-humor. One that I felt was complemented by the more literal wit of Nanjiani perfectly. Despite themselves even falling into the character tropes. Their chemistry together was more than capable enough to weave many amusing back-and-forth’s between them that was boosted by some clever dialogue in many instances.
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The most crucial aspect of this film is the need for it to be funny. More than the story, the action, and the plot-progression, humor is essential for it to be successful and it was effective. I laughed a lot and chuckled many more times. It was not complex comedy. But it was witty when it needed to be and when blended with amusing situational and visual attempts at humor, it results in a variety of comedic tones. Nanjiani is able to deliver plenty of grounded dry laughs and when the intensity increases, and he swerves into panic mode, it was as equally hilarious. And I think Bautista was able to blend his efforts in with that same natural timing to make them an appealing odd couple.
Like I mentioned the story-line is one we have seen before. It plugs in a couple twists and wrinkles here and there, but it’s easy to see where it’s going. However, the run-time is short and the pace is swift. Things are continually evolving and with some fun action scenes and consistent humor it was engaging all the while still being familiar. The fight-sequences were great for the most part. The first sequence was a little jarring with the shaky cam technique, and it did have me worried. But the camerawork does settle down in the collection of scenes that follow, and overall Dowse did a nice job directing.
For the run-time there was a good collection of action set-pieces that were able to keep the energy up. The sequences also never abandon the comedic theme and it was fun to sit back and watch a well-crafted fight-sequence while laughing at the same time. Iko Uwais comes in to make the most out of a cut-and-paste villain with his incredible martial-arts skill. Dowse certainly did a solid job of capturing his abilities as he dishes out some punishment on Bautista and Nanjiani. There was also a small, but effective group of side characters that each provide small moments of charm, humor, and intensity along the way as well that in a subtle way did help keep things moving. This movie could have been much worse and easily forgettable. But the laughs create a charming atmosphere that pulled me in for 90-minutes of action-packed fun. If you like action-comedies, and these trailers were appealing to you then it will certainly entertain.