When Lydia and Emily return to life after their childhood, Emily has risen to the top of her field as a geneticist and CEO of her own business. Lydia works a forklift. When Emily doesn’t show up for the high school reunion, Lydia is devastated and walks into Emily’s sparkling office, determined to bring her friend back to the party. It’s their childhood again: Emily was studious, Lydia was a murderer. It worked in childhood, but not so much in adulthood. Lydia is told not to touch anything in the office, but Lydia does, accidentally injecting herself with half the superhero-genetic formula, the one that will make someone super, super strong. Lydia didn’t sign up for this, and neither did Emily. Emily is furious, but there is nothing she can do. She takes the other half of the genetic formula, the one that will make someone invisible.
Next comes the practice montage, as they both familiarize themselves with their newfound powers. Meanwhile, a race for mayor is heating up in Chicago. One of the contestants is nicknamed “The King” (Bobby Cannavale), and he’s an openly evil thug, strutting around in costumes that make him look like he’s stepped out of a Damon Runyon story. The king is in cahoots with the disbelievers, one in particular, named Laser (Pom Klementieff), whom he hisses at his suspected enemies. Lydia and Emily call themselves “Thunder Force”, perform a few trials, before setting themselves the goal of defeating the king. Lydia is sidelined by flirting with a half-disbeliever named Crab Man (Jason Bateman), who has no visible superpowers unless you call out some awkward crab arm superpowers.
This is all very standard and none of it is particularly interesting. Watching CGI-generated McCarthy and Spencer turn and spin in the air attacking their enemies is not my idea for a good timing. My idea of a good time, though, is watching them develop a relationship, watching them make each other laugh, watching them act together. They are great together. It’s the draw, both of you. There’s not enough. In comparison, “The Heat,” where McCarthy played an unstable and unpredictable FBI agent in partnership with the rules-following Sandra Bullock, mostly used gender-specific scaffolding to let the two actresses run wild in this structure. Each scene features an awkward schtick, and the crime they’re investigating is somewhat irrelevant. The only game in town is their acting chemistry. “Thunder Force” does not allow it.