Didn’t I see Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx do this film before, an action-packed story about a taxi driver who is commandeered by a driven gunman? “Collateral” it was called.
Now we have “Stuber.”
In this one, an Uber driver is commandeered by a gun-toting LAPD cop chasing a drug lord.
Instead of Foxx driving a taxi, we have Kumail Nanjiana behind the wheel of an Uber. And rather than Tom Cruise shooting everybody in sight, we have gruff Dave Bautista kicking butt as he tries to nail the bad guy who killed his partner.
While “Collateral” might be described as noirish, “Stuber” is more of an action comedy. It's sort of like those “Rush Hour” buddy-cop movies.
Pakistani-American stand-up comedian Nanjiana stars as Stu, the wide-eyed Uber driver. You will recognize him from his earlier film, “The Big Sick.” Time magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Co-starring as Vic, David Michael Bautista Jr. is a retired professional wrestler who (under the name Batista) won the World Heavyweight Championship four times and the WWE Championship twice, among many other titles. Trying his hand at acting (Is there a difference?) he has appeared in numerous movies as well as playing Drax the Destroyer in four Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters.
Indonesian actor and martial artist Iko Uwais turns up as the drug lord who Vic and Stu have vowed to take down. Academy Award-winner Mira Sorvino appears as the police captain who is Vic’s angry boss.
“Stuber” is still wreaking its havoc at the Regal Cinema in Boone, Two Rivers Cinema in Wilkesboro and AMC Hickory 15 in Hickory.
Rather than “Collateral” and “Rush Hour,” the actors were thinking “Lethal Weapon,” says Nanjiana.
However, the director (Michael Dowse of “Goon” and “Mile Zero”) had another model in mind. As Batista remembers it, “Michael wanted me to go back to ‘48 Hours,’ because there was a certain feeling and vibe about Nick Nolte’s performance that was really unlikable — he’s really surly and sully and insulting, and he wanted me to draw from that … I used Nick Nolte’s character as a reference … this big bull, grouchy and surly veteran cop, on the force way too long, obsessed with it.”
The one-liner pitch for “Stuber” might be “an odd couple in an electric car driving around the worst neighborhoods in L.A.” Or “wacky oaf teamed with neurotic straight man.” Nonetheless, there is lots of shooting, fighting and explosions. In the process, Stu learns how to be tough, and Vic learns how to be sensitive.
Another movie also comes to mind: Batista’s character needs to get a heart, and Nunjiana’s character needs to get courage.
“Wizard of Oz?" says Nanjiana. “I hadn’t made that connection, but that isn’t wrong. He needs to get in touch with his heart, I need to get courage. Also there’s a dog in it — Toto is in there, too — and something like a Wicked Witch.”
That said, we’re reminded that Dorothy skipped along the Yellow Brick Road. She didn’t call an Uber.
North Carolina native and Florida resident, Shirrel Rhoades writes movie reviews and can be reached at email@example.com.