This Means War Review

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This Means War

Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 1 HR, 38 MIN

Director: McG
Starring: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, and Angela Bassett



Film Rating: 2 out of 5
Films released in time for Valentine’s Day usually have a way of being avoided by me completely as evidenced by the fact that I have not and will not be reviewing The Vow.  I have very little interest in that kind of film which I tend to associate with lonely women with too many cats trying to find an excuse to be out of house filled with sadness and broken dreams.  On the other end of the lonely spectrum, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was released this past weekend to entice the oily, crumb covered, mouth breathing Casanovas out of their mother’s basement for a few hours over this love filled holiday weekend.  For everyone that could scrounge up a date that hadn’t taken the poverbal ‘suicide by film’ route This Means War was the obvious choice.

To put it simply This Means War is Sweet Home Alabama with spies but slightly less time is spent with Reese Witherspoon and there is more emphasis put on the male leads.  To be fair it’s not quite that simple but it’s also not too far from the truth.  CIA Agents FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are put on desk duty after their latest assignment isn’t as covert as their boss would like.  Meanwhile, Trish (Chelsea Handler) creates an online dating profile for her beautiful, successful, and extremely lonely friend Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).  Initially horrified by the prospect of online dating Lauren quickly changes here tune after seeing the ‘stunning’ photo of Tuck and they agree to meet.  Equally horrified that his partner is meeting a woman off a dating service, FDR wants to back Tuck up in case the date turns out to be a disaster.  Luckily for Lauren and Tuck their date goes superbly, unfortunately FDR runs into Lauren afterwards and inadvertently asks Lauren out not realizing that she was Tuck’s date.  Lauren of course doesn’t know what to do and the boys eventually find out they’re both dating the same girl and they proudly announce that… This Means War.

As an action film This Means War is a failure; aside from a brief and incoherent gun battle at the beginning and the phoned in and equally brief and incoherent gun battle at the end of the film This Means War is little more than a romantic-comedy.  Before viewing This Means War I was assuming it would be more action than romantic comedy; the type of film that a guy could try and convince a girl to go to because of the romance.  As it turns out the girls should be trying to convince the guys to see it with the argument that “It’s a romantic-comedy… with action… there’s something for both of us.”  To a certain extent that’s true, This Means War isn’t an action extravaganza by any means but the witty dialogue between Pine and Hardy is a blast and the dueling date montage keeps an otherwise mediocre film afloat.

What sinks This Means War more than the lack of action is the recycled rom-com plot.  As I mentioned earlier it has a very non-complimentary Sweet Home Alabama feel to it.  I found that plot to be somewhat offensive because of the sexual double standard it presented and ten years later it still bothers me.  Imagine if This Means War centered around a good looking single man that was dating two beautiful women.  Both women, at least on the surface seemed like genuinely good people but he hid the fact that he was dating them both until he could base his decision on their sexual performance.  Let that sink in for a moment… that sounds a lot more like a late night Skinamax flick than a big budget Hollywood romantic-comedy doesn’t it?

This Means War is directed by action hack McG who has previous works include the manic Charlie’s Angels films, the uncharacteristic We Are Marshall, and the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ puss-fess Terminator: Salvation.  I can honestly say that This Means War is probably his most enjoyable film thus far but unfortunately that’s not high praise because it’s just as manic and two-faced as most other McG films.  People are always very tough on director’s like Michael Bay for their disjointed action sequences but I’d say McG is even worse.  For all of Michael Bay’s considerable faults I think he usually delivers on at least half of what he advertises which can lead to a (stupidly) entertaining film, simply put McG continues not to deliver.

Pine and Hardy are very enjoyable in their respective roles and their dueling dialogue keeps the paint by numbers story from being completely devoid of entertainment value.  The script was handled by the creative minds behind Role Models and Sherlock Holmes which are two films that also include a lot of ‘brotastic’ dialogue.  Not nearly as enjoyable is Reese Witherspoon who is perfectly cute but who’s personality is as unattractive as the film is action packed.  Rounding out the main cast is the loved and hated Chelsea Handler who I thought did pretty well in a one-dimensional role, not fairing as well is Til Schweiger who is equally one-dimensional but is completely wasted being the boring European villain.

I didn’t hate This Means War but I certainly didn’t love it either.  The Sweet Home Alabama plot, morally bankrupt leading lady, and lack of action outweigh the Chris Pine and Tom Hardy’s enjoyable banter.  I doubt I’ll ever watch This Means War again because it’s a fundamentally flawed film with far too little working in its favor.

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Written by

Nicholas Herum

  • http://www.dtmmr.wordpress.com Dan O.

    Nice review. All of these leads try their hardest, but the script
    just lets them down too much with terrible jokes and very ugly feeling underneath this premise. I just thought this one was completely stupid and it’s really surprising to see some major critics back it up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10001962830953831445 Cinemaniac

    Overall, that was my reaction as well. The story has an interesting premise, but they fumbled the execution.

    A total of three set pieces would have been fine, but there was so little build-up to the shoot out in the second act, and the shoot-out itself was rather mundane and abbreviated.

    Good review there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11737798466816750685 Alex Jowski

    Good review. Glad I decided to wait for DVD on this movie instead of paying to see it in a theater.

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