Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Means War (2012)

The romantic comedy-action genre blend has been one that is very tough to pull off, unless it's handled by a competent crew of filmmakers. The two films that have gotten it the right way are 1993's True Romance and 1994's True Lies. However since the 1990s decade, there hasn't been a film of the same genre mash that's had the ability to stand alongside those two. This time around, director McG tackles on the challenge with the star power trifecta of Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon in the newest of several new releases this week titled "This Means War."

Tuck and FDR (Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) are best friends that work for the CIA. However, one of their latest missions goes awry, and they're grounded from going on assignments for a unmentioned time. Off the job, Tuck is a sweet guy when it comes to the ladies, while FDR is a definitive Los Angeles playboy. While on break, Tuck begins dating Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), a woman he met on an online dating service. Unfortunately in classic romantic comedy cliche form, FDR unknowingly begins to date Lauren at the same time Tuck is. The duo soon find out the coincidence and it begins to destroy both their personal and private lives, which ultimately lead to both of them using their CIA tactics to sabotage each others relationship with Lauren.

Despite the awful dialogue they're given, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine display surprisingly good chemistry on screen. The two have become known for their charisma alongside other actors in the movies they act in, but they manage to do their best on the constant banter between both of their characters. Reese Witherspoon on the other hand, felt miscast in her role as the girl placed in the middle of the awkward situation she's not aware of until the third act of the film. Like every other 30-something single woman does in Los Angeles, her character does nothing but whine and make constant stupid decisions on what to do while dating the two guys. Witherspoon does her best with a character that's extremely derivative in the romantic comedy genre, but her high credibility as an actress makes her deserve so much more than a lackluster role like this. Chelsea Handler is one of the funniest female comedians there are today, and just about all of her lines of dialogue were ad-libbed her. However, the majority of her funniest lines were one of the several reasons why the film was originally rated R, so this PG-13 cut makes her seem more tame than anything else.

I've never been the slightest fan of director McG, especially after 2009's Terminator: Salvation, which in my opinion is the worst entry of the Terminator franchise. His style always feel like a knock-off of Michael Bay's, which is definitely one of the worst aspects you can find in a filmmaker today. McG chooses to film the action in the fast-edited, handheld camera style, where there's certain sequences that you can barely tell what's going on. Additionally, he turns the big final action set-piece into a series of cartoonish explosions and very noticeably silly instances of CGI. The shootouts especially emulate the extremely silly tone of this film, where a character will rapidly fire a gun in an uncontrollable manner, and somehow every shot hits its mark.
The writing though, is without a doubt the most notable flaw of the film. Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg's script is already peppered with poorly written dialogue to start, but like nearly every other romantic comedy of this generation, the film's transitions are based off of what the next dumb, contrived situation the writers can place their characters in. Now that wouldn't have bothered me throughout the film, unless it wasn't for the ending to this film that followed three contrivances in a row that just managed to drag out in pacing more than the previous one did. Furthermore, the script has an awful balance of comedy and action, because there are only four total scenes of action in the film, but they last at such a short running time due to McG's fast-paced shooting style. The comedy situations manage to fall flatter as the film carries on, and that's mostly due to the set-pieces feeling more derivative of past films that have executed in a better manner.

Overall, "This Means War" is an incredibly silly, stupid genre mash-up of action and romantic comedy. If it wasn't for the lead performances by Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon, this would have easily been one of the laziest, unforgiving movies I had seen in years. Also if they had rated the film R, it would've had the opportunity to be more over-the-top and edgy with both the genres it was trying to mash together. This will definitely one of the most notable "like it or hate it" movies of the year, but I've made it quite clear on where my stance is in this 50/50 poll.

Final Grade: D

Review of "This Means War" on Youtube


  1. Perhaps if this film had true at the beginning of it's name, you'd give it a higher rating, lol. But seriously, this did look bad from the trailer, such a shame as Tom Hardy and Chris Pine are terrific actors. Great review, Tyler.

  2. 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.