A detective (Dave Bautista, Guardians of the Galaxy) recruits his Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick) to help him track down a killer in buddy action-comedy Stuber, opening in cinemas this week. It’s got laughs and a surprising amount of violance, Daniel Rutledge gleefully reports, but it unfortunately falls short of greatness.
The best thing about Stuber is the two leads, Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani. Both have buckets of charisma and charm, and putting them together as an unlikely crime-fighting duo should only make their appeal exponentially greater. It is fantastic seeing them work together in this solid action/comedy, but it falls short of the greatness it should have achieved.
The second best thing Stuber has going for it is sweet as violence. I had no idea it was going to go as hard as it does with the frequent graphic headshots, a few wince-inducing broken bones and its nice, high bodycount. Yes, Iko Uwais’s talents are wasted as they always are in American movies, but this is primarily a comedy and its great bloodiness is unexpected and delightful. Also, one of the funniest bits is a comedic fight sequence in a sporting goods store that drags on for an awesome amount of time.
What lets Stuber down is the script. Nanjiani has supreme comedy chops and his delivery is always on point, but the jokes written for him by scribe Tripper Clancy (seriously) are too often sub-par. Bautista fares better, mainly due to most of his comedic moments being driven physically rather than verbally. A lot of the jokes do land and there’s plenty of chuckles in between the big laugh-out-loud moments, but then there are a fair few lame gags that let things down.
A lot of the plot points don’t make sense and there’s product placement galore, however, all that could be forgiven if it was washed down with more hilarity. Stuber doesn’t completely waste the potential of the Bautista/Nanjiani cocktail, but if this was written by someone more skilled than Tripper it could’ve fit nicely in between Pineapple Express and The Nice Guys as a true modern classic of the buddy action/comedy genre.