‘Raid’ star Iko Uwais shows up in “Stuber” but instead of taking advantage of his athletic talents, the movie has Uwais go through such mundane and lazily set-up action sequences.
The entire movie works purely on the ingenious casting decision of having Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista buddy-cop their way through a pedantic plot. Nanjiani plays Stu, a customer-service obsessed Uber driver, he badly wants those five star ratings, that has his newly leased Prius taken over by Vic (Bautista), a workaholic cop hunting Uwais’ villain. And so, Stu is stuck being chauffeur for Vic. Hilarity and lots head shots ensue.
“Stuber” is directed by Michael Dowse (“Goon”) but he can’t stop the consistent contrivances happening at every turn here. Also, Stu’s motivations to stay and continue chauffeuring Vic are fairly muddled; Does it mostly have to do with Vic’s threats of giving him a zero star rating? Regardless, It’s all packaged in nostalgic 1980s buddy-cop narrative form — an R-rated action picture which tries to mix hard-earned goofy laughs with graphic violence. However, what Dowse forgets is that the very best movies of that ‘80s action era (‘“Midnight Run,” “48 Hours” “Lethal Weapon”) were driven by the humorous and believable banter between the two leads, but that, more importantly, there was also solid drama— the latter barely exists in “Stuber.”
Yes, Nanjiana and Bautista prove to be a decent pairing, uttering their lines in ways that can, at times, leads to hilariously delivered banter. Other times, however, the bromance falls flat. The script, by Tripper Clancy, tends to waste the talents of Bautista, an underrated actor - his character feels one-note and uninspired (Vic is just a dead-serious, humorless and pedantic jerk). Jonathan Shcwartz’ editing also struggles to find a groove in Clancy’s messily structured screenplay. Nanjiani, on the other hand, finds a way to play around the rote dialogue and ad-libs his way towards a few laughs.
Of course, the actors shouldn’t be faulted for how flat “Stuber” ends up feeling — they try to rise the mediocrity around them into something watchable. They barely can. [C+]