I’ve learned a new axiom in cinematic storytelling, and it goes like this, “If you make your plot holes big enough, then is there really a plot hole, to begin with?” In other words, if the events of the film are so implausible, it becomes plausible. This axiom applies to Michael Dowse’s Stuber, who teams up Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani in a highly improbable buddy movie.
Our crime thriller opens with Officer Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) and his partner Sara Morris (Karen Gillan) arriving at the penthouse of a big crime boss, only to be met with his men and a lot of guns. During the melee, Manning loses his glasses and is unable to save his partner from the cunning Oka Tedjo (Iko Uwais).
Months later and still on the hunt for his partner’s killer, Manning’s captain Angie McHenry (Mira Sorvino) informs him that the Feds are going to take over his case. Upset that he failed his partner, Manning takes time off to get Lasik surgery and spend some time with his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales), who is having a significant art showing later that night.
“Upset that he failed his partner, Manning takes time off to get Lasik surgery…”
After his surgery, the visually-impaired Manning promises Nicole he’ll be at the gallery for support. To lock in that support, Nicole installs the Uber app on his phone. As crime dramas go, things don’t always go according to plans. Manning gets a tip that Tedjo is involved in a major drug shipment that afternoon.
Meanwhile, there’s Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), who drives Uber to make extra money. Boy, does he need the extra cash as he’s going in half-sies on a soul-cycle-type business with his best friend and secret crush Becca (Betty Gilpin). But being sort of a wimp and lacking self-confidence, Stu is content just pining away for Becca, as she laments about her on-again/off-again boyfriend.
Blind from surgery, Manning hails Stu as his driver and forces Stu to take him on his manhunt for Tedjo. The ride takes the pair to a male strip-club, an informant’s apartment, an animal hospital, and a secret warehouse in Long Beach. Manning wants to put Tedjo down at all costs, while Stu just wants to survive and meet-up with Becca so they can have sex.
Nothing complicated here, Stuber is an action comedy. The comedy is found in the personality contrast between Bautista as the rough, muscle-bound cop and Nanjiani’s whiny little man in hopes of getting out of this dangerous ride. Even though Nanjiani has one-liners to say or sarcastic comments all throughout the film, he gets only slightly annoying, and some of the jokes do manage to hit. Not bad, and it could have been a lot worse.
“…Bautista and Nanjiani together made an exciting pair, and as the movie’s leads, they do an admirable job carrying the film.”
The action is pretty much the star. It’s good rated-R violence. Gunshots to the head with minimal blood-spurting, Lots of realistic punching, car chases, and stockpiles of guns and ammo. There’s also the obligatory heel-turn, and touching lessons about the importance of family and being your authentic self.
Speaking of plot holes, there’s a few. If you’ve ever had Lasik, Manning does everything you can do to screw up the surgery immediately afterward by getting hit in the face with several items. Stu could also just manually end the ride and not endanger himself for the rest of the trip. Then if you’ve ever driven for Uber, you know certain things just don’t happen. There’s a lot more I could list, but again, at some point, who cares.
The final verdict is Stuber is a passable action film. Teaming Bautista and Nanjiani together made an exciting pair, and as the movie’s leads, they do an admirable job carrying the film. There’s a nice little racist moment that I loved between the two that goes nowhere considering neither of these two is white. Unfortunately, Stuber never rises to the point of being remarkable in any way. You’ll love it, if you are a fan of either lead, otherwise, it’s a standard buddy movie.
Stuber (2019) Directed by Michael Dowse. Written by Tripper Clancy. Starring Dave Bautista, Kumail Nanjiani, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Morales, Iko Uwais, Betty Gilpin, Karen Gillan.
6.5 out of 10 stars