Who loves “Lethal Weapon”? This guy loves “Lethal Weapon”!
But what if you took Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs, made them one person, and turned Leo Getz into a less slimy and not criminal Uber driver?
If you did that, you would have “Stuber”.
From an unlikely pair in “Goon” director Michael Dowse and fairly-new-to-the-game screenwriter Tripper Clancy, this is the story of Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), an aging cop who has a chip on his shoulder for a drug runner he cannot seem to catch. His obsession with Oka Tedjo (Iko Uwais from “The Raid” films) has also worked its way into his personal life, fracturing his relationship with his daughter (Natalie Morales), and on the day of her big art gallery showing, he ends up getting Lasik surgery, which blinds him for the day. Promising he will still be there somehow, she introduces him to the ride sharing app, where his path crosses with Stu (Kumail Nanjiani), a guy who is trying to make ends meet while partnering in business with his long-time crush, Becca (Betty Gilpin). What starts out as a day off for Manning turns into a hot tip that puts him on the trail of Tedjo with Stu along for the ride.
With some nice subtle homages to Richard Donner’s action franchise (complete with partially subtle messages like using cars that do not rely on gas), “Stuber” is still able to stand on its own as a fun, pseudo-buddy-cop type of film. The two leads in Nanjiani and Bautista have great chemistry together, which I have to believe had a certain degree of improvisation as the longer in-car sequences went on. The action is simple enough that even Stu is able to get in on some of it himself to add some great comedic moments amongst the testosterone. There is a plot hole here and there (especially as it deals with Vic’s temporary blindness), but it was never enough to take me out of what was going on at the time. There is even an appearance by Mira Sorvino as one of his friends on the force and Karen Gillan as his partner that keeps things moving in a script that knows exactly what it needs to be and stays in its lane. And that is what makes this film so much fun to watch.
With a clever marketing campaign that even included Nanjiani appearing at WrestleMania 35 to be featured in the crowd during Bautista’s match with Triple H that was paired with the trailer for this film, this has been on my radar for a while now, and I was not disappointed. Go ahead and leave your brain at the door and simply enjoy “Stuber” for the escapism that it is.