Notable Cast: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Till Schweiger, Chelsea Handler
Review: Rom-Coms…vocally my favorite genre to cover, but maybe McG could inject some life in an otherwise inauthentic medium by folding action into a best friend love triangle. Maybe McG is finally trying to give the male population something palatable for when their female counterparts inevitably drag them to another date movie. With expectations in check, one thing we could all agree on pre-viewing was This Means War wouldn’t provide any kind of Shakespearian tragedy or Victorian love story, established by the relatively slapstick trailer. With that said, This Means War still did have the potential of being a fun and exciting date movie, and I’ll break down to admit there were some chuckles and moments of intrigue, mixed in the laughably unrealistic fantasy world McG’s film takes place. In an interview, McG also let slip that he wanted to make two alternate endings for his film and send them at random to theaters, so the audience would have no idea who Reese Witherspoon’s character would end up with. This would have been fantastic considering the ending was established in the early stages of story development, and some mystery would have benefitted This Means War. With a PG-13 rating the shoot-outs were safe and cheesy, but consider yourself lucky if you get dragged to McG’s romantic/action hybrid over the typical chick flick like The Vow…it could be a lot worse.
Inseparable friends Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) work together as the CIA’s best field agent team. Facing death every day and spending every minute out of work together, nothing can get in the way of this bromance; except a beautiful girl they both accidentally fall in love with. The single Lauren (Witherspoon) puts work before pleasure always, and subsequently lives a dull bachelorette lifestyle she wants to turn around. Her best friend Trish (Handler) takes care of this by creating a fake online dating profile for Lauren, one that Tuck finds in his quest for a soul mate. Their first date goes extremely well, but Lauren decides to stop off at the video store afterwards, which is where FDR sees the beauty. Having no idea Lauren is the girl Tuck was meeting, FDR puts his own moves on her and secures his own date. Matters only become worse when the friends reveal their mystery dates to each other, both showing a picture of Lauren. Tuck and FDR make a gentleman’s agreement to let the lady decide who is the better fit, making ground rules so their brotherly bond isn’t broken. Like a kid in a candy store though, Lauren decides to keep dating both, playing into the boy’s ridiculous plan, oblivious to the fact that both are best friends. What ensues is a battle for Lauren’s heart, as the duo uses every CIA trick to win the blonde bombshell over. All is fair in love and war…
How do you not pick Tom Hardy based on accent alone?! I could listen to him…er…em I mean his accent all day…wait that still doesn’t sound better…
So, where did the fun consist in This Means War? All players were charming and witty, embodying the clichés meant for each character. Chris Pine is the love struck cocky playboy, which fits his looks and demeanor perfectly if you check him out in any roles. Hardy on the other hand gets to be the romantic gentleman in touch with his feelings and searching for a soul mate, which he does oh so well considering he’s usually just beating the crap out of people on-screen. Chemistry wise there were no complaints either, as the two fit together like boyhood friends sharing comedic banter and bro filled moments. On the female side, Reese was funny, spunky, and portrayed the predicament of dating two hunks in a silly yet meaningful way. Then there’s Chelsea Handler who does what she does best by popping on-screen every so often just to make an extremely off-color comment and vanish yet again. So, then you put these characters in a scenario where Tuck and FDR are spying on Lauren and Trish via the surveillance cameras planted by both agents, and you have a admittedly funny moment. Both egotistical men react to hearing Lauren and Trish rip apart their flaws, both men then in turn bust each other like kids on a school yard, and finally the two get information leading to ideas for their next dates. I’m sure done before, but like I said, the whole CIA operative angle put a funny twist on the unfair advantage that men have no idea what’s going on in a woman’s mind. This Means War puts the shoe on the other foot, as the men use any intel they can to change themselves into what Lauren wants.
But we have to remember This Means War is just another Rom-Com, so half the time you’re left just scratching your head. At PG-13, there’s no blood or gore, so every shoot out is just a bunch of henchmen falling over and the agents doing things that should most likely get themselves killed, but it looks pretty at least? You can’t help but laugh when a baddy falls off the roof of a skyscraper to land on a car, a straight drop, to reveal no blood or any kind of disfiguring. Really? But I digress as again this was expected. As was the inevitability of Lauren’s choice, not leaving much to the imagination in terms of ending. Then there’s a script filled with dulled down jokes and easy down storytelling, but again what else was expected from a Rom-Com built to attract the most audiences possible? You truly want to marry the romantic and action genres? Give This Means War a hard R rating, really throw these guys in the trenches, and see how Lauren feels when she’s covered in blood and watching these two snapping villain’s necks. Now that’s a twist, but of course playing to a much more reduced demographic. With This Means War you simply get what you pay for, nothing more and nothing less. Here’s to mediocrity?
Final Rating: 6 tranq darts to the neck out of 10
Fun Fact: This is the worst movie rental store in history. Yes, I noticed this, but under the comedy section you could blatantly see films like Enemy At The Gates. C’mon, can’t you even try with realism?