This Means War (2012)

This Means War

Director: McG

Writers: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg, Marcus Gautesen

Cast: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Angela Bassett, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, Abigail Spencer, Rosemary Harris, Laura Vandervoort, John Stewart, George Touliatos, Clint Carleton, Warren Christie, Natassia Malthe, Dominique Brownes, Paul Wu, Daren A. Herbert, Kevin O'Grady, Jesse Reid, Viv Leacock, Jenny Slate

Synopsis: Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language

Of course you realize, this means war!

McG proves once again that you don't need a cleverly written story to produce a box office hit with "This Means War." The movie is essentially everything that you'd expect from the trailer, as it features over the top action that borders on the line of the damn near impossible to the ridiculously absurd. You have a love triangle that ends on the most cliched note as humanly possible; while featuring a cartoon "James Bond" villain reject that's sort of a one note nutcase, who has absolutely no back story.

But then again, people don't watch these types of movies for their engaging stories, or their deep characterization. No, they watch them purely on the merit of pure escapism purposes. On that note, it does succeed to a point. The humor can be funny at times, even though it does come off as juvenile at times. For example, there's a joke about how small Chris Pine's hands are, and how it says how small his....well..you get the idea. Of course, there's another joke about Tom Hardy's character being British, and how it somehow makes him less than a man...um...I'm sorry...I don't get it...

Anyway, the film focuses on two CIA agents, FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). For years, they've been the best of friends, and they're practically like brothers to each other. FDR suffers from a few trust issues stemming from his tragic past involving his parents, but I won't spoil that for my readers. Besides, this film is already predictable as it is, so I have to leave some surprises. Anyway, FDR is a bit of a playboy in this movie, and he's a bit of a smart a** rebel to boot. Gee, this doesn't sound like the same character he played in "Star Trek" at all.... Of course, I'm being sarcastic with that last statement for those that can't tell.

Meanwhile, Tuck plays a guy that's recently getting over a divorce, but wants to try to jump back into the dating scene. Why is he divorced you ask? We're never told, and the wife won't give him the time of day. Aw poor Tuck. I'll be sure to play the world's smallest violin for him to commemorate his pain.

Of course, we also have the love interest, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), who's recently getting over a bad relationship, but chooses to hide it by becoming this workaholic career driven woman. Oh why is that all strong minded independent women, in movies, are really nothing more than sad wallflowers pretending to be career driven to mask their own emotional insecurities? I mean god forbid that a woman should choose to be career driven simply because they're career driven. Oh the humanity of it all!

Anyway, Lauren's best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler), decides to set up a dating profile for her on a dating site. Needless to say, she ends up on a date with Tuck, which seems to go fairly well. However, after the date, she somehow ends up meeting FDR by mistake, and he instantly hits on her. At first, she sees him as an egotistical jerk, but he eventually wears her down to the point that she agrees to go out with him. To make a long story short, Tuck and FDR find out that they're dating the same girl, and immediately come to a gentleman's agreement. They both agree that they won't tell her that they know each other, and that they'll stay out of each other's way; while both agreeing that they would let her decide between them.

Of course, they do try to get in each other's way, and use their various CIA resources to not only spy on Lauren to find out everything she likes, but they also go to extreme lengths to make sure the other doesn't do so well with her. As one would expect, this leads to a lot of the film's over the top, and slapstick style humor. Oh and there's a villain that wants both Tuck and FDR dead, but the film doesn't focus on the bad guy at all. No, he's more of a plot device that's used as a reason for Tuck and FDR to put aside their differences, and become friends again. Isn't that nice?

As I mentioned in my video review, I thought this movie was fairly decent for what it was trying to be. It's not a great romantic comedy, or action comedy, that I would say ranks among the best out there. However, it's fairly decent, as I thought Reese Witherspoon was rather charming in her role as Lauren; in spite of having to work with mediocre dialogue for her character.

Chris Pine was very good in this movie, but it feels like he's played this type of character once too often; which makes me think he could be another Brad Pitt to some degree. Meaning, he plays himself playing a role. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that, as a lot of actors can only play themselves in a part. Hell, John Wayne became the most iconic actor of his generation doing that, so there's no shame in playing yourself in a role. However, it just means that Chris isn't a versatile actor.

As for Tom Hardy, I thought he was arguably the weakest actor in this movie. Granted, he wasn't terrible, but you can almost tell that his heart wasn't in his performance here; which is rather sad considering he's coming off two great performances in "Tailor Tinker Soldier Spy" and "Warrior." Granted, the script didn't exactly help either, as it offers very little characterization for his character to begin with. Plus, there's the wasted use of such a great actress in Angela Bassett, who sees less than ten minutes of screen time.

As I was saying earlier, I don't think this is a bad movie per say, as I could certainly name several that would make this movie look like a masterpiece by comparison. But at the same time, it's not a great romantic action comedy, as there's been several better ones out there too. In the end, you can't really expect much from a movie like this, as most of the cliches and stereotypes are kind of expected; hence it's really hard to pick on this movie for being what it is. However, I just generally hate it when Hollywood shoves mediocre endings like the one we see in "This Means War", as it's brought up in such a nonsensical way that it's almost insulting your intelligence. Seriously, the ending comes completely out of left field, and only serves to give audiences some sort of feel good type ending that wasn't even necessary to the story.

Overall though, I think if you're just looking for a fairly decent popcorn film to watch with your wife or girlfriend, then it's definitely worth renting when it comes out on netflix or something. However, if you're looking for a more original type romantic comedy that won't talk down to you, then I would recommend "Midnight in Paris" instead. Or if you want a romantic comedy that has action in it, then see "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." I guess I would have to give this movie a two out of four. It's fairly decent for what it tries to accomplish, but I wouldn't expect too much out of it.

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