In a Summer filled with remakes, sequels and adaptations comes Stuber, the buddy cop action comedy about, you guessed it, that ride-sharing app, starring one of the most unlikely team ups ever. On paper this B-movie really shouldn’t work, but it’s an unexpectedly brilliant popcorn flick that’s possibly one of the funniest films I’ve seen since Game Night! Granted it is somewhat formulaic and strays into predictable territory, but I genuinely found myself laughing-out-loud and couldn’t resist the charmingly hilarious chemistry between leads Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani.
Directed by Michael Dowse, Stuber centres on Vic Manning (Bautista), an LAPD detective who’s obsessed with tracking down heroine dealer Oka Tedjo (The Raid‘s Iko Uwais), following the murder of his partner Sara (Karen Gillan). After undergoing laser eye surgery, Vic learns of a nearby drop involving Tedjo, so orders an Uber to the location after subsequently crashing his own car. Queue hapless Nissan Leaf driver Stu (Nanjiani), who was definitely NOT expecting his night to involve shootouts, strip clubs and car chases…
Yes the plot is very much a throwback to (and possibly overly reliant on) those nostalgic 80s/90s buddy-cop/action flicks featuring a mismatched central duo, I’m looking at you Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour, incorporating physical comedy and impressive action sequences, but surprisingly adding brutal violence. Anyone else miss these mid-budget action movies? The script features a number of laugh-out-loud scenes, with my particular favourite a shoot out at a veterinary centre, but unfortunately not all of the jokes land. Scratch under the surface and there’s also an unexpected and bold discussion on the conflicting examples of masculinity and embracing your inner emotions.
But a buddy cop flick doesn’t work without a genuinely funny connection between the two leads, and thankfully Bautista and Nanjiani are absolutely brilliant in the roles, bringing a real chemistry to the film. Their comedic timing is absolutely spot on and it’s hilarious to see them antagonise each-other with their opposing personalities! Bautista obviously shines in the action sequences, particularly with the more physical comedy aspects, while Nanjiani excels with the more deadpan delivery of his character, mocking Vic’s archetypal classic action hero. With the majority of the film’s runtime centering on the two leads, the supporting cast doesn’t receive a huge amount of screen time, but American Vandal‘s Jimmy Tatro definitely builds upon his comedic chops as Stu’s boss and Karen Gillan’s brief appearance give us a nice GOTG nod. However The Raid‘s Oka Tedjo is a poorly developed villain and however interesting his fight choreography is, the rivalry between himself and Vic never quite lives up to expectations.
As expected from this genre, there’s plenty of impressive (and over the top!) car chases, shoot outs and really well choreographed fight sequences. One particular stand out is the opening chase sequence involving Bautista, Uwais and Gillan, as Bautista incorporates some great wrestling moves into the section, mixing it up with Uwais’ Pencak Silat style. Also adding another chuckle is the ironic counterpoint of using soft-rock tracks by bands such as Styx and The Hollies with violent action sequences.
Overall, Stuber is a fresh take on the mid-budget buddy cop/action movie that doesn’t always quite hit the mark, but when it does, it’s a real joy ride! There aren’t a whole lot of original comedies out there on the big screen anymore, thanks to more direct to streaming services like Netflix, so I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this film!