You know, I didn’t want to see Stuber at first. I thought it just looked unremarkable. I thought it looked like an average comedic action movie; and I was right. There’s nothing really special about this movie. Outside of the great chemistry of co-leads, Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani, this is a run-of-the-mil, cop tracking bad guy, action film.
Bautista plays Vic Manning, a Los Angeles detective dealing with the violent loss of his partner, Sara Morris, and is focusing all of his energy and anger to find the man who killed her. Nanjiani plays Stu, an average Joe who is an Uber driver on the weekends. He is dealing with the financial pressure of investing in a gym his friend will operate. Stu’s “friend” is Becca, a woman he is desperately in love with.
Following a break in his case against the man who killed his partner, Manning relies on Stu to drive him around Los Angeles thanks to being unable to see due to the laser eye surgery he underwent earlier in the day. Stu and Manning are polar opposites. Vic Manning is a massive, nigh-overwhelming presence, while Stu is quiet, thoughtful and pretty meek by all accounts. This is what makes this movie much more fun that I was expecting. Stu is forced in the hilarious peril, including fist fights, shoot outs and, perhaps most dangerous of all, self-introspection, all while trying to hook up with the clueless Becca. Manning on the other hand, is hopelessly dependent upon Stu because he can barely see two feet in front of him.
A lot of reviews for Stuber focus on the portrayal of toxic masculinity. Often times, people will often see a massiv presence like Dave Bautista’s character in this movie, and instantly write him off as a no-nonsense meathead with a badge. But I think a lot of people are missing the big picture here with Stuber. There’s a scene around the midpoint of the film that shows off a cool shoot out involving cans of dog food (long story). Manning tells Stu that he needs him or they’ll both die. Right away, Manning is ready and willing to work with the timid Stu right off the bat. It doesn’t matter that Stu is physically inferior to him, he recognizes that they need each other. And Stu, to his credit, rises to the occasion more often than not.
While this movie might not be the action movie event of the summer, it has a lot more layers to it that even I gave it credit for at first. Plus, what’s equally impressive is how it does not belittle Stu for being an average guy who gets what kind of guy he is. The overwhelming majority of us guys, do need help. We do get scared, we do want to cry and be held. While some guys are okay with admitting this openly, there are also guys (myself included) that get angry when they realize that sometimes, they’re weak and need help.
On top of all of this, Dave Bautista is a great presence that is often underrated. While you wouldn’t exactly expect him to be the subtlest guy in the world, there are moments peppered throughout this movie that, to me, prove that there’s more to him than we’ve seen so far. Also, The Raid’s Iko Uwais plays a the cackling villain that kind of made me want to see him play the Riddler in a Batman movie. I don’t know why, but I think he could pull that off.