Buddy-cop copy a tedious take

Stuber stars Dave Bautista as aggressive cop Vic (far left) and Kumail Nanjiani as meek Uber driver Stu.
Stuber stars Dave Bautista as aggressive cop Vic (far left) and Kumail Nanjiani as meek Uber driver Stu.PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

The story: Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista are Stu and Vic, a meek Uber driver and an aggressive cop that Stu picks up. Vic is obsessed with finding the gang leader who shot his partner. Stu wants to get away to be with the woman he loves, but Vic browbeats him into following along.

The oddest thing about this almost complete rip-off of other, better buddy-cop movies is how good actors such as Nanjiani and Bautista got involved in something so dire.

As they say, they should fire their agents or something.

The goodwill that these two men have banked up, from Nanjiani's romantic comedy The Big Sick (2017) and Bautista in The Guardians Of The Galaxy films (2014 and 2017) cannot save them. In fact, as this tedious affair grinds on past the 30-minute mark, one finds oneself getting angry at the two for wasting their shot at leading-man status on this dreck.

Nothing here is original. Not the odd-couple set-up - in another buddy-cop movie, Stu might be a taxi driver hailed by a cop or an actor riding along to learn the ways of the police - nor the series of escapades that end with Stu screaming for mercy and Vic revelling in the mayhem.

One might argue that this work is not so much a clone as part of a tradition of nervy-man macho-man comedy pairings, with Nanjiani as the Kevin Hart of the duo (Central Intelligence, 2016, paired with Dwayne Johnson; Ride Along, 2014; paired with Ice Cube).

If so, then some self-awareness could have gone a long way.

Instead, the plot goes through more twists than a corkscrew to keep Stu trapped in his Uber car in the company of Vic, with neither acknowledging the contrivances keeping them together.

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A little meta irony would have helped make the package work, especially when it is clear that Stu is so obviously intelligent.

Nanjiani and Bautista are two men in a hurry to make it into the Hollywood big leagues. They think this cookie-cutter project is their ticket to ride when this is more like a rideshare to nowhere.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2019, with the headline 'Buddy-cop copy a tedious take'. Print Edition | Subscribe