Movie Review - Stuber
Bautista is actually Filipino, but his character's ethnicity is never identified. His character is Victor Manning and he simply proclaims that he's not white. Victor's daughter is played by a Latina, a Cuban actress, but it doesn't seem as if Victor is Latino or Hispanic. It gets a little confusing because some Filipino people identify as Hispanic, although no one in the United States would likely identify as such. We never see the mother of Victor's daughter, so that could be the source of his daughter's Latina nature, if that's indeed how his daughter identifies. All of this doesn't matter in the movie, but in the wake of the success of Crazy Rich Asians (2018), it's a wonder if we'll see more people of Asian descent in big budget films whether they identify that way explicitly or not.
Yes, Victor is a cop who can't see. He's undergone LASIK surgery, which renders his vision blurry for a day. Unfortunately, that day is the same day that Victor gets a tip about a drug-dealing murderer that he's been tracking for two years. Instead of passing the tip along to another detective, Victor decides that he has to pursue the tip himself and himself alone. Because his sight is so compromised, he calls an Uber, which is basically a taxi for people connected through a ride-sharing app on your smartphone. Stu just happens to be in the area and is reluctantly pulled into Victor's insane pursuit, making this a buddy cop film.
This might be a bit of a spoiler, but the film perhaps starts off on the wrong foot by fridging. Fridging is a trope where a female character is killed in order to motivate a male character. It's a trope that's associated with super-hero or comic book films. Deadpool 2 (2018) and the recent Dark Phoenix (2019) were the most egregious examples. The term doesn't seem to be applied on non-comic book movies, but I don't see that much difference between the comic book movies and action-comedies of today like this one.
If one can put that criticism aside, then the film, written by Tripper Clancy, is more playing with a clever, comedic idea. He takes a cop movie and makes the cop blind. Unfortunately, the Chinese film Blind Detective (2013) beat this one to the punch. There was also a TV series called Blind Justice (2005) that also beat this film to the punch, but the idea is still a fertile one of which the film makes fairly good use. One good use is with frequent pratfalls where Victor is constantly crashing or bumping into things. Bautista handles the physical humor very well.
The charm and comedic styling of Bautista and Nanjiani are enough to carry this film though. It was reminiscent of the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence (2016). The chemistry between Bautista and Nanjiani wasn't as strong as Johnson and Hart, but it was enough to make this film one of the most entertaining originals this year.
Rated R for violence and language, sexual references and brief graphic nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.