This Means War (2012)

Having failed to foil an international sale of weapons of mass destruction while on covert deployment in Hong Kong, a case which resulted in the death of their target’s brother, FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Hensen (Tom Hardy) find them grounded upon their return to headquarters. When his partner scores a date online, FDR offers to bail Tuck out should the evening prove a bust, and positions himself in a video store around the corner from the chosen restaurant. Unwittingly, however, he finds himself chatting up the same girl when she stops by to rent a movie on her way home. With both men now vying for the affections of Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), a gentleman’s agreement forged almost as quickly as it’s forgotten, they use the equipment at their disposal to make sure that they are the one who comes out on top.

For McG, the much maligned director of such contemporary classics as Charlie’s Angels and, er, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, This Means War must have been one big balancing act. Ostensibly breaching the perky gender divide with its perfect ratio of action to romance, the film also had to paint FDR and Tuck as equally worthy candidates for Lauren’s affections without making her out to be some sort of easy, unsympathetic whore. You know, like FDR. This is Hollywood, after all, and sexism is still the name of the game. If This Means War succeeds at anything, and my God that’s a big if, it is in pandering to just about every demographic going, with its infantile narrative, it’s pretty cast, its numerous explosions and its near-puritanical approach to profanity.

While McG might have been sure not to offend his audience, however, he has taken an equally conservative approach to trying to entertain them too. There are a few witty lines peppering the script (Lauren: Oh, I think I’m going to hell. Her best friend Trish: Don’t worry. If you’re going to hell, I’ll just come pick you up), but largely it all boils down to clichéd bumper sticker philosophies and the two leads expounding their love for one another at literally every available opportunity. Of course, you rarely get a full exchange between characters, as McG will compulsively throw in an exploding table, a few eye-gouging quick edits cut to a montage before anyone says anything too intelligent or revealing.

Outside of his trigger-happy grasp, the poor film clings on to its central love triangle for dear life. Chris Pine has by now perfected his cocksure onscreen persona, bringing a variant of his James T. Kirk to the role while Tom Hardy follows rom-com tradition with a bumbling British accent. Reese Witherspoon, meanwhile, tries her best to aid audiences in finding some way of relating to a kooky product testing executive, clearly making the most of her time in this: her First Proper Action Movie. She’s even given something half kind of interesting to do during the film’s explosive finale. With the filmmakers having apparently forgotten that the usually reliable Til Schweiger is even in their movie, it’s left to Chelsea Handler to steal the show as the no-nonsense Trish, however, and I would have quite happily exited the film with her, afloat in a roadside pond.

Affable more than memorable, amusing rather than funny, This Means War is somewhat of a step in the right direction for McG, one he was in desperate need of after 2009’s utterly joyless Terminator: Salvation. With the amount of effort expended by all to make the rickety contrivance at the film’s centre hang together, however, you will invariably leave the cinema wondering if it was actually worth it.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to This Means War (2012)

  1. Pingback: March 2012 – Fire all things that go bang! « popcornaddict

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