This Means War (2012)
“I know movies, and women” – Nope that’s not just my chat-up my line, it’s from the film.
CIA agents FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are partners and best friends outside of work too, but when they accidentally fall for the same girl, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), they become instant rivals while she dates them both to decide which one to choose, and of course she knows nothing of their relationship to each other.
Against any good things this film has going for it, it was directed by McG (yup, that’s really the name he uses!). As if his pretentious name wasn’t a big enough clue, let me explain a little about him. McG has done a few decent things, most clearly working with Josh Schwartz in producing some great television such as ‘The O.C.’ and my personal favourite ‘Chuck’. For all his good TV however, when it comes to feature films, McG has a habit of producing often disappointing results.
Let’s start with ‘Charlie’s Angels’ which was perfectly decent, good fun, plenty of action and attractive women blowing things up (McG loves explosions). He then went on to make a sequel, ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’ which in my opinion was complete dross, I watched it last year and was blown away by just how bad it was, I had to force myself to sit through it to the end as I try to avoid leaving films unfinished.
Then exhibit B is ‘Terminator Salvation’, a film that just didn’t need to be made, and really would have been better if it wasn’t. I have seen it twice (so I can speak with conviction) and didn’t enjoy it much either time, first time was mostly underwhelmed, second time I realised just how lacking it really was and started actively disliking watching it.
Exhibit C, which I have not seen but the evidence speaks for itself, is McG produced ‘Stolen’ which was released just a few months ago. Starring Nicholas Cage in full action mode, it flopped hugely at the box office and took just $2 million on a $35 million budget, which is shockingly bad for a film with such a big-name lead.
‘This Means War’ has a theoretically good cast, with Chris Pine coming from the ‘Stark Trek’ success, and Tom Hardy who has been consistently excellent in things like ‘Inception’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Then there’s Reese Witherspoon who adds the romantic interest and was clearly cast for her abilities in romantic films such as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and comedies such as ‘Legally Blonde’. Despite this seemingly well thought out ensemble, it just doesn’t work.
The dialogue is regularly below par, with so many lines feeling very much like they made it straight through from the first draft, especially Chelsea Handler’s character (Lauren’s best friend) who is just so crude and doesn’t add to the humour at all.
There are just too many plot elements crammed into this film, but none are perfected. It’s understandable that in a film that deliberately merges spy action with romantic comedy there will be a few different plot strands, but there are far too many as if the writers had a couple of films they were writing that weren’t working out or original enough and so just squished them together.
To end it all there’s a predictable conclusion that you can see coming from very early on, however it is strangely fitting and decently satisfying, then something in the very last scene spoils it all. Apparently the DVD release has two different alternative endings, I think another should have been chosen because the one I have just seen spoils the nearly suitable end and left me ultimately annoyed with a very mediocre movie.