Combustible Celluloid
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With: Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Morales, Iko Uwais, Betty Gilpin, Karen Gillan, Jimmy Tatro, Steve Howey, Rene Moran, Amin Joseph
Written by: Tripper Clancy
Directed by: Michael Dowse
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Running Time: 93
Date: 07/11/2019

Stuber (2019)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Ride Mare

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bautista and Nanjiani are likable enough together, and it has a few laughs, but the movie feels rushed and routine, and it's difficult to care about the lazy plot or the characters' involvement in it.

In Stuber, LAPD detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) loses his partner (Karen Gillan) during a shootout and becomes obsessed with catching her killer, drug trafficker Oka Teijo (Iko Uwais). Months later, because his eyesight was a factor, he schedules laser eye surgery, which renders him blind for 24 hours. He immediately gets a tip as to Oka's whereabouts, but he's unable to drive. So he hails an Uber, driven by Stu (Kumail Nanjiani).

As Vic uncovers new clues, he badgers Stu into more driving, even though the woman he loves, Becca (Betty Gilpin), is expecting him. To make matters worse, there is a mole in the police department, and Vic's daughter (Natalie Morales) also becomes a target. Can Vic and Stu stop bickering long enough to save the day?

Stuber starts badly, with a violent fight/shootout scene, shot in headache-inducing shaky-cam, and the fact that Bautista is back together with his Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Gillan offers little comfort. Simultaneously, Uwais — who was previously the charismatic hero of the Raid movies — is painted as a nasty, hateful, paper-thin villain who simply seems to enjoy killing cops and their friends and families.

Revenge is supposed to drive the plot, but there's no fire or fury here, and it feels empty. In one cross-cut scene, Vic interviews a woman while Stu has a heart-to-heart conversation with a male stripper; each time it cuts back to Vic furthering the movie's plot, the scene just dies. Indeed, all of the funniest lines are simply that, asides that are hovering slightly above and outside the plot.

The rest of Stuber, all yelling and crashing and destruction — not to mention ridiculous product placement — is flat-out tired. It's too bad Bautista and Nanjiani couldn't have been paired up in something more worthy of their time and talents.

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