Stuber review: Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani help lift a forgettable ride

Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani star in Stuber (Picture: 20th Century Fox)

Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista form a likeable odd couple in this Uber action comedy, where admirable performances help elevate its shortcomings.

After his cop partner is killed by a wanted drug lord, Vic’s (Dave Bautista) life is swallowed by vengeance at the expense of the relationship with his daughter. As he’s threatened to be pulled off the case, a last minute tip off leads him to unexpectedly pair up with mild mannered Uber driver Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), who simply wants a five star rating to keep his job.

What unfolds is a comedy which plays around with masculinity. While Vic is bursting into gang hideouts, flashing his pistol and grunting his way through social interactions, Stu is overly polite and eager to please; even investing in a business with the woman he loves in the hopes they’ll end up together despite her flings elsewhere.

It’s both a compliment and a pitfall Stuber mostly delivers what you’d expect. The central duo are a charming combo, with Kumail especially proving just as likeable as his past role in The Big Sick, albeit with forgettable, less witty material. He provides the film’s standout moments though, with a propane tank incident in a car chase particularly striking the sweet spot between absurd hyper violence and hilarious shocks.

There’s some fun to be had in Stuber, although it’s forgettable (Picture: 20th Century Fox)

Bautista channels a similar beat to his comedic role in as Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy, with one literal metaphor joke feeling ripped from its pages. It’s his chemistry with Kumail you’re paying for here though, even if it’s trapped in a film which isn’t quite as abrasive, or sweet, as you’d want it to be.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Stuber, but there’s not much remarkable about it either. The action scenes are weighty if fleeting, and often feel like they’re compensating for a lack of smarts beneath the noise — especially compared to rivals like 22 Jump Street. The script is also reliable for laughs, but suffers whenever Kumail’s character isn’t in the picture to cut through the clunkiness.

There is something pleasingly direct about Stuber though. Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, It’s brisk and doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. It ends on a high note too and, unlike many comedies, doesn’t over encumber itself with unnecessary characters or plot threads to drop one-note gags.

While it will fall pretty quickly from memory, Stuber is an enjoyable ride carried by the charms of its leading stars. With the talent involved, it’s a shame it isn’t sharper and more inventive, but there’s a likeable film shining through its flaws. 

Stuber is released in cinemas now. 

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