- 29 Jul 19
Kumail Nanjiani steals the show in middling odd-couple cop caper.
Directed by Michael Dowse. Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan. 93 mins. In cinemas now.
The Big Sick’s Kumail Nanjiani stars as Stu, an Uber driver whose over-eager narration of his own eighteen-point-turns has left him one bad customer rating away from losing his job. Unfortunately for him, tough-guy cop Vic (Dave Bautista) is desperate to catch a drug dealer who shot his partner – except Vic is recovering from eye surgery and can’t see a thing. With a press of a button, he’s hailed not just a ride, but an unwitting, unwilling and deeply neurotic foil for a night of odd-couple, shoot-out-filled, banterful hijinks.
The plot – on autopilot with a crime boss, some double-crossing and Vic’s disapproving daughter (Natalie Morales) – is as thin and unconvincing as Uber’s Code Of Ethics, but Nanjiani milks the material for all its worth. Stu is a nervous pushover, too scared to stand up to his bullying co-workers or to tell his best friend (Betty Gilpin, wasted) that he’s in love with her. But as Vic’s quest sees both Stu’s ego and electric car get battered as they hunt down criminals through a male strip club, a Sriracha factory, an animal hospital and an art show, he starts snapping back. Nanjiani and Bautista trade barbed insults and zingers while dodging bullets, until they come to a begrudging appreciation for their different expressions of strength.
Stuber’s comedic elements make for an enjoyable if forgettable Friday cinema trip, but the action sequences are surprisingly gritty. Some of this is played for self-aware laughs, as car crashes, gunplay and a Jaws-style propane stunt don’t work quite as expected. But the violence is sometimes jarringly graphic, aiming for Dramatic Heft, but arriving at Uneasy Genre Blend. A tonal GPS may have helped.