Review: This Means War

Directed by: McG
Written by:Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg, Marcus Gautesen
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett
Released: February 14, 2012
Grade: C-

Getting an unusual Tuesday release in Australia, This Means War was offered up as this year’s major Valentine’s Day release.  Couples could head long to their local theatre, snuggle up next to their partner and have a few laughs with this light mix of action and romance.  Perhaps it had the desired effect.  As I walked down the aisle during the closing credits, I saw two separate couples making out passionately in their seats.  They had no idea what was going on around them.

I envy them.  Not because they’ve found true love.  Rather, because they were sufficiently distracted to not have to watch this awful movie.  I saw the dreadful trailer and I tried to go in with an open mind but I’m sorry, there’s not much I can recommend about it.

The plot is just dumb.  Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) are two CIA agents who can’t find a girlfriend.  The reason is quite simple – they’re too much in love with themselves.  The film opens with them going to a lavish party and trying to apprehend a bad guy with a foreign accident.  They’re told by their boss (Bassett) to make it a “covert” operation.  That’s not how it goes down.  They’re looking for any excuse they can to fire their guns and make a scene.  They want to look cool!

Thanks to a plot-driven coincidence, these two guys find themselves lusting for the same woman.  Her name is Lauren (Witherspoon) and she works for a product testing company.  The catch is that she doesn’t know that they’re best friends.  She met them separately and has agreed to go on a date with them both.  She hopes it’ll give her some clarity on who is the better man.

As for Tuck and FDR, well, they know exactly what’s going on.  It’s a contest for them.  They’re doing anything possible to outshine the other guy and win her affections.  This includes using staff within the CIA to bug her house and follow her movements.  Basically, she’s under 24 hour surveillance.  It’s just so stupid.

I’m open to the idea of a fun, silly romantic-comedy but these three characters are all so unlikeable.  I didn’t want either of the two guys to earn her affections.  They’re both superficial jerks – an opinion that didn’t change throughout the entire film.  I’m a fan of Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy but they had no hope with this weak screenplay in their hands.

As a backdrop to the romance, there’s a woefully developed subplot involving the foreign bad guy (played by Til Schweiger) that I alluded to above.  He pops up every 10 minutes or so and tries to give the film some kind of action-thriller quality.  It doesn’t work either.  The two stories come together at the end with a quick, unsatisfying conclusion and some dodgy special effects.

We all have different tastes when it comes to comedy… and for me, this is the bottom of the barrel.