‘Stuber’ takes the action-buddy genre for another ride

Dave Bautista (left) and Kumail Nanjiani star in “Stuber”

In these days of ride-sharing popularity, you just knew it had to happen … a movie centered around an Uber trip.

Marry that to an action-buddy premise, and it seems like an idea made in summer box-office heaven. Thus we get “Stuber,” or what happens when a mild-mannered driver gets drawn into a tough cop’s pursuit of a killer.

The ever-rugged Dave Bautista is the police detective in this case, and since he’s just had eye surgery, he can’t get behind the wheel himself. He orders an Uber, and comedy star Kumail Nanjiani plays the chauffeur who draws the assignment. And does he ever get more than he bargained for, as the journey racks up bullets along with miles.

This is right out of the “Lethal Weapon” or “Ride Along” playbook, with dissimilar fellows becoming partners in wisecracks and danger – and the blueprint is so standard, it really falls to the actors involved to make the result successful. Fortunately, Nanjiani and Bautista have an offbeat rapport that keeps their shared antics very watchable; they get solid support from such co-stars as Mira Sorvino, Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”) and Natalie Morales (“Abby’s”).

Actually, Bautista is the one who fares best here. He’s wisely following a path taken by others including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, carefully building upon roles that largely have let his commanding physique do the talking. He made an imposing James Bond villain in “Spectre” and introduced humor into his screen presence in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, and “Stuber” lets him take the next step into defining his acting niche even more.

Nanjiani has it a bit easier, relying on the comedic image he already has established for himself. That can work well in a crime-tale milieu, as proven in the past by Eddie Murphy (in “Beverly Hills Cop”), Chris Rock (“Lethal Weapon 4”), Kevin Hart (“Ride Along”) and numerous others.

Moving at a fast pace that ultimately clocks in at just over 90 minutes, “Stuber” does fall prey to something that’s been a hurdle for a number of movies lately, trying to be several things at once … so you get some strong doses of violence along with the humor here. That’s not unheard of in this genre, but just be aware that’s the sort of ride “Stuber” provides.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 2413 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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