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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > This Means War

MOVIE REVIEWS

THIS MEANS WAR (2012)

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett, Til Schweiger, Abigail Spencer, Laura Vandervoort, Jenny Slate, John Paul Ruttan, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris, George Touliatos, Clint Carleton and Warren Christie.

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg and  Timothy Dowling.

Directed by McG.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  98 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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This Means War

This Means War is a surprisingly apt title for this action/romantic comedy, because there is a really good movie idea and a really bad movie idea doing battle throughout the running time.  The good idea eventually mostly wins out, but the schizophrenic story-telling style is more of a distraction than a benefit here.

 

The mission - should you choose to accept it - is that two best friend spies fall in love with the same woman and then use their professional skills to seduce her and sabotage each other's romantic overtures.

 

Whoo, talk about high concept. 

 

One day Reese Witherspoon is so desperate for a date that her best friend signs her up for an internet dating site.  (This friend is played by comedienne Chelsea Handler, who makes a sparkplug of a sidekick.)  The next day, two dreamy, deadly spies are using millions of dollars worth of equipment, dangerous weapons, spy satellites and entire squads of the CIA just to get into Reese's pants.

 

Is this really what the Patriot Act is for?

 

Okay, I know that description of the plot is rather glib, but the movie itself is overwhelmingly glib, so it's almost like they are asking for it.

 

Is it fun?  Sure, much of the time. 

 

Is it stupid?  Even more often.

 

Is it romantic?  Not really, but what the hell?  Who really needs romance in their romantic comedy?  You always get the feeling that the spies - the gorgeous American lothario (Chris Pine) and the soulful British divorcee (Tom Hardy) -  care more for and about each other than they ever did for Witherspoon. 

 

And her decision on which guy to end up with seems completely arbitrary.  It seems more plot-driven than heart-driven.

 

Still, This Means War is mostly enjoyable in its own lunkheaded way.   

 

Continuing in his style-over-substance filmmaking approach, director McG (Charlie's Angels, Terminator Salvation) somehow is able to coax a bit of emotional depth out of slightly cardboard characters and an unlikely premise.  The actors bring more gravity to their roles than they perhaps deserve, therefore we care about what is going on even when we don't really buy it for a second.

 

The guys have a good camaraderie and Witherspoon's love interest, while slightly generic, is pleasant enough company.

 

Too bad so much screen time and so much of the movie's budget is wasted on the huge action set pieces that feel like they were shipped in from another, lesser movie.  These scenes feel like they are haphazardly dropped into this plot with no reason or panache and offer very little payoff to the storyline. 

 

These scenes may even fit right in to another, totally different film about these characters if the love story aspect were jettisoned.  But since the personal interactions of This Means War are the best things on display in this movie, fast-forward through the tranquilizer darts and explosions and get to the real meat of the story.  

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 22, 2012.

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Copyright 2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 22, 2012.

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