Follow Us on Twitter

This Means War - Review

This Means War

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

ON THE one hand, McG’s This Means War is a high concept attempt to deliver the type of film that’s as comfortable being called a chick flick as it is a boys’ own action adventure. On the other, its stupidity defies belief.

The idea is good. Take two of the hottest young actors of the moment – Tom Hardy and Chris Pine – and a former Oscar-winning actress (Reese Witherspoon) and place them in a spy-movie-cum-rom-com that’s equal parts action and romance.

But McG, as he has previously shown with the likes of Charlie’s Angels and Terminator: Salvation, isn’t necessarily adept enough to handle the demands of both. Rather, he likes to over-cook proceedings with one flashy set piece after another without necessarily paying much attention to logic or emotional depth.

Hence, This Means War is fun in places but instantly disposable popcorn fluff. And that’s if you’re the type of undemanding viewer who takes most of their pleasure in eye candy rather than plot coherence or logic.

FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are best friends and spies who would take a bullet for each other in the field. But when both start dating Lauren (Witherspoon) their loyalty is tested as both find their heart ruling their head.

As their competitiveness gets out of hand, however, they begin to use their professional skills to keep track of each other and, where necessary, undermine each other’s romantic prospects.

To be fair, McG does keep you guessing who will win Witherspoon’s heart but there will be a certain portion of the audience who simply don’t care either.

The laughs, when they come, are geared more towards the character humiliation variety, even though Pine and Hardy appear to be enjoying themselves and entering into the spirit of things.

Indeed, the film is arguably at its ‘best’ when in their company as McG seems more comfortable when keeping an element of testosterone in the mix.

Witherspoon, on the other hand, fares less better as her character seems poorly defined. When first introduced, she’s ditzy, insecure and mildly irritating. Over the course of the film, she becomes forthright and even domineering, seldom stopping to think about hurting anyone’s feelings. It’s an uneven plotted transition though.

But that’s partly because she’s being guided in her own duplicity by trash-talking best friend Trish (US comedienne Chelsea Handler), a post-Bridesmaids kind of chick who encourages her to do all the things her unfulfilling life can no longer provide. This, in turn, makes Trish deeply unsympathetic, which rubs off on Lauren.

In the action stakes, McG delivers two big sequences to book-end the movie, both of which feel over-directed and nonsensical. But he fares better when keeping things simple, as in a comedy paintballing sequence involving Hardy’s character.

But even then, he seems to want to go for the big laughs over common sense, with the innumerable inconsistencies (both in terms of character and plot) eventually stacking up to undermine the film’s credibility.

That you’ll laugh in spite of yourself says more about the charisma of the film’s leading trio than it does the screenwriting or direction but somehow, in spite of its flaws, This Means War retains a car-crash kind of guilty pleasure quality about it.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 98mins
UK Release Date: March 2, 2012