This Means War
This Means War is the latest film from McG, with the premise that CIA agents and best friends Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) meet focus group queen Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) at the same time. Unable to give each other a clear run, both decide to date her, without telling her that they are acquaintances.
Predictably both fall for her and hilarity is supposed to ensue. In the spirit of Lauren’s focus group work in this review, let’s go through the pros and cons of the film, just as she inevitably does with her prospective suitors.
First of all, our two protagonists bear about as much resemblance to real spies as a pot of coleslaw does to a nuclear physicist. If real spies behaved like these two, the CIA would struggle to tie its shoelaces let alone stop a terrorist plot. Second, the whole premise of the film is that the two men use their position, with all the invasive technology that it entails, to effectively stalk Lauren for their own benefit. Trampling over a citizen’s rights has never been so romantic. Finally, it seems that collateral damage is okay: oops, just exploded a car killing a family… Is it great because the explosion looked cool? No.
Now let’s say what’s right with the film: Reese Witherspoon as ever is just as likeable and funny as ever, Tom Hardy has his usual presence and the odd one-liner does raise a giggle. Yet even in its mildly funny moments, This Means War is sadly predictable and the outlandishness and daftness of the premise demands that we get more than hackneyed lines about trying to choose a man.
And now for the bad things which make it fail even as a brainless action comedy: no scene is allowed to pass without thumping generic rock music. It is fair enough in a thrilling chase scene, but not every time someone enters a room; then there’s the villain: in the opening scene it’s established he’s not a nice chap, the pair kill his brother by throwing him off a building. We don’t see him in another scene until he comes after them to set up the film’s climax. James Bond’s cars have more backstory, and as a result he’s about as threatening as any other transparent plot device.
All these terrible, misguided elements about the film come to a head in the ending. In it there’s an utterly inexplicable chase scene, with cut scenes that make no sense, and no real reasoning behind why it develops. It’s just a selection of expensive noises and explosions. Here’s how one knows it’s a terrible, terrible film: throughout the entire climax I genuinely couldn’t have cared what happened; who got the girl; whether the bad guy died; how the film would give us a sense of jeopardy. The situations are so absurd, the characters are flimsy, the morality skewed, and the direction so annoying that all I wanted was for it to come to a predictable end so I could leave and not have to go through another scene of cardboard cut-out characters exploding things to the dull throb of casual misogyny and generic rock.
Watch the trailer of This Means War here