Stuber is directed by Michael Dowse. The film stars Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Iko Uwais, Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino, and Karen Gillan.
Vic Manning is a successful police officer hot on the trail of a drug runner who killed his partner, who wants nothing more than to avenge her. His pursuits put him in the path of Stu, a timid Uber driver who ends up being forcibly recruited into helping with Vic’s investigations. But it isn’t long before everything takes a turn for the worst, and the duo of two men who couldn’t be more different are in over their heads.
The premise behind Stuber isn’t a bad idea; “buddy cop” movies have long been a successful formula, and WWE wrestler turned actor Dave Bautista has been riding the wave of success he’s experienced as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This seemed like a winning formula, but the end result is predictable, poorly filmed, crude and crass, imbalanced between action and comedy, and tries to cram far too much material into its duration. Lazy writing doesn’t help things any. There are a few laughs to be had along the way, but not enough to merit a recommendation.
The one shining light in Stuber is Kumail Nanjiani, who actually gets in his share of one-liners and manages to invoke a few genuine laughs. This mild-mannered Uber driver is hilarious in quite a few moments. Had a movie been written around this actor/character without the action/thriller elements, the simplicity and potential probably would have shined through and made for a fantastic comedy.
But of course, the filmmakers had to cram in everything else.
The basic premise behind Stuber could’ve made for a great movie. But the filmmakers just go for broke and throw in everything but the kitchen sink. Bautista’s character mourns a fallen partner. There’s a crooked cop. He’s estranged from his daughter. He’s recovering from laser eye surgery. Nanjiani’s character has an on-again off-again relationship with a woman he frequently mourns over. He’s constantly harassed by a co-worker. At one point, the movie literally stops dead in its tracks so the two main characters can insult each other and beat each other with objects (I’m NOT making this up!) Is your head spinning yet? This is a lot of plot for even a more serious action/drama film, and it doesn’t help we’ve seen all these elements in other movies, all of which did them better.
Even the production suffers. The action scenes are shot in annoying close-up cluttered shaky-cam style, so they’re just plain ugly to watch. It doesn’t help that the movie is imbalanced between comedy and action scenes, with the former having to (pardon the bad pun in a movie about an Uber driver) take a back seat for most of the movie. It’s written lazily (how many times do we need the F-word in one film?), and we know certain objects and plot points will come back into play later. Very little about Stuber surprised me, and not in a good way.
I also want to add that anyone wanting to see this movie for a reunion between Bautista and his Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Karen Gillan will be disappointed to learn she’s barely in the movie.
Please let Kumail Nanjiani play this character in a standalone comedy; he’s hilarious and has the potential to do something very funny. As is, Stuber is an imbalanced, ugly mess of a movie you don’t want to waste your time with. Rent it when it comes out on video if you’re curious, but don’t see it in theaters.
Rating: One-and-a-half out of four stars.
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