Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: This Means War

This Means War is an action movie masquerading as a buddy film masquerading as a romantic comedy.  Before you get too excited about that prospect, you have to remember that it is a McG movie.  So without seeing a single frame of the film, you should already know that you're about to see a flick with a shortage of character development and a glut of rapid scene cuts.  He is after all the man who directed the A.D.D. inducing Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.  I have to admit though, in his latest directorial effort, the finished product comes off as a bit more balanced and a lot more entertaining than his last film (Terminator Salvation).

The movie is about two CIA operatives – one a lady’s man and the other a divorcee with a soft heart – who fall in love with the same career-driven woman and use their CIA training and resources to duke it out for her love.  All the while, a German arms dealer makes his way to L.A. to exact revenge on the aforementioned smitten secret agents.  If this plot works for you, then you should absolutely see this movie.  If this synopsis leaves you with some reservations, fear not.  There are some really good elements that make this film entertaining – albeit flawed.

Reese Witherspoon is billed as the star, but really that is in name only.  Her character is the most vanilla of the principles and could easily have been played by a plethora of actresses without affecting the final product in a favorable or adverse manner.  Witherspoon’s Lauren is a means to an end – a catalyst to spark the battle of machismo mojo between Chris Pine’s FDR and Tom Hardy’s Tuck.  And this is where the film works.  Pine and Hardy are better known for their action prowess and this serves them well during the physical comedy bits, but they also show solid comedic sense and timing to match.  There’s natural chemistry between the two that emerges in their banter as they slip seamlessly between camaraderie and antagonism.  

As for the rest of the cast, they do their best to keep up with McG’s breakneck pacing.  Chelsea Handler’s sarcastic quips are as fast and biting as machine gun fire.  While at times it feels like she is delivering her stand-up routine, she ultimately steals most of the scenes shared with Witherspoon.  Daren HerbertKevin O’GradyJesse Reid, and Viv Leacock do a nice job as Tuck’s and FDR’s respective CIA teams and add value to the comedic hijinks while Til Schweiger, as Heinrich is little more than a mean scowl dressed in a dark suit.

I would half-heartedly recommend this movie with the understanding that you’re going to be treated to a brisk but shallow narrative with unrealistic action mixed in with some genuinely funny moments.  If you’re looking for a romantic comedy or an all out action film, then there are better choices.  If you are looking for a fair compromise that has something for fans of either genre, then this is a fair choice.

Standout Performance:  Chelsea Handler delivers some great ad-libs.


  1. Nice review. All of these leads try their hardest, but the script just lets them down too much with terrible jokes and very ugly feeling underneath this premise. Check out my review when you get the chance.