Movie review: This Means War
It's difficult to take anything seriously directed by a guy who goes by the name of McG; after all, if he shows such flagrant disregard for vowels, God only knows what kind of craziness he brings to a film set.
Perhaps the answer lies in his previous work. To date This Means War is only his fourth feature to direct; the others being both Charlie's Angels films and Terminator Salvation. So in a sense, it's a CV that thus proves that the director doesn't really want to be taken all that seriously, and this film doesn't change that.
When an international criminal, who goes by the name of Henrich (Til Schweiger, continuing the age long tradition of the European super baddie), appears in Hong Kong to purchase a devastating weapon, it's no surprise that the CIA send out two of their finest agents: Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine).
Unfortunately for them, the deal goes bad, with Henrich getting away. Still, they do manage to kill his brother in the process, which is a result. When they return to HQ however, their boss Collins (Angela Bassett) grounds them for a job badly done. So Tuck and FDR suddenly find themselves with a bit of down time.
Understandably, with so much time in the field, it's difficult for agents to find time for love. It's particularly hard for Tuck, who found love once, but lost it along the way. Still, his marriage helped provide him with his seven year old son, so it wasn't all bad. So feeling the need to get out there again he signs up to It'sfate.net, a dating site, in the hope of finding true love.
Meanwhile, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) – a product testing executive – is a fine example of a modern working gal; her work, which she loves, takes up so much of her time that she has very little time left for dating. Her friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) decides to help her out and creates profile on her behalf on...It'sfate.net. Although initially shocked, Lauren goes along with it when she sees hottie Tuck's profile and decides to go out on a date with him.
Tuck is excited at the prospect meeting up with Lauren, but FDR decides he needs him as his wing man, just in case it all goes horribly wrong. Tuck agrees, but only on the proviso that he stays a couple of blocks away for the actual date.
The date with Lauren goes really well, but doesn't last long, somewhat surprisingly. Lauren soon finds herself on the way home, but stops off at a store to pick up a DVD to watch. She bumps into a suave, attractive man there, who attempts to chat her up. Although Lauren's a little frosty towards him at first, she soon finds herself warming to him. As it turns out, it's FDR.
Lauren soon finds herself in the position where she's dating both guys at the same time, which the two best friends become quickly aware of. Awkward. Both men soon find themselves pulling out the stops to impress her. But with both of them being agents, they don't necessarily play fair. On top of this, it seems that Henrich hasn't forgotten that the pair killed his brother...
So there you have it, a love triangle with a modern twist. McG certainly directs with a whole lot of energy; it's as if the film is on a sugar rush from beginning to end. The premise isn't a million miles away from the TV show Chuck, which McG also produced, as both feature a world of spies, full of action, but with a hint of love also in the air.
This is a fairly bread and butter role for Witherspoon, as she breezily makes her way through the film. Although her character is far from complicated, she certainly manages to make her likeable enough.
It's a different story for the male leads however, with one slightly more dominant than the other. Pine is a curious-looking actor; despite his obvious good looks, he has this curiously ability to not really be able to stand out in a cinematic crowd. You may remember he was in the <i>Star Trek</i> reboot as well as Unstoppable; but you're just as likely to not, he has that kind of face. He hits the ground running however with this womanising character. He oozes, that's for sure, and some of that may even be charm.
And then there's Brit Tom Hardy. It needs to be reminded that he is indeed British as the actor himself appeared to struggle with his native accent at times. Despite even playing a British character – albeit one with a truly stupid name – his accent often swerved into some peculiar London patois concoction. Considering his talent, you'd think he'd be able to do a good English accent. Apparently not.
He also struggled with the whole rom-com genre itself. Hardy's character always has this dark edginess about him, as if he's about to go on some mad killing spree. Even his body language betrays his attempt at a lighter character. He just doesn't look comfortable at all. Having said that, he probably steals the show in one particular scene when he embarks on an action activity with Witherspoon.
Although the film is essentially about two hardened agents looking for love, it's difficult to feel it from any side. Maybe it's more of a lust triangle than love. Whatever it is, the trigonometry does feel odd.
However, McG directs at such a pace, with some really well choreographed set pieces; although the characters may fall out of synch with one another a tad, he manages to keep the whole ball rolling with an enjoyable mix of action and laughs.
As wars go, this is a pretty bearable one, with only one or two casualties.
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