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This Means War - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
This Means War
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Directing: C
Acting: B
Writing: C-
Cinematography: B
Editing: C+



I want to be positive here. I like to think of the glass as half full. Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are all getting steady work. Good for them!

Not so good for us, in this case anyway. This Means War was directed by McG, which really should serve as a warning. This was the guy responsible for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009). It was written by . . . oh, who cares? Two story credits and two screenplay credits: writing by committee, which Hollywood is in love with even though it never yields great results. You can just imagine the executives in the pitch meeting: "We should have a scene where they fight while skydiving." Because that makes perfect sense.

This movie could have been mostly okay. Casting the Witherspoon, Pine and Hardy -- and even Chelsea Handler in a supporting role -- was a good start. The actors, while admittedly too old to be behaving the way they do in this movie (they are thirtysomethings acting like twentysomethings), are at least easy on the eyes. Even Tom Hardy, who manages to be sort of gorgeous in spite of his oddly shaped mouth and crooked teeth. Of course, it's never a good sign when the presence of attractive actors qualifies as the silver lining. Besides, we don't even get to see them undressed. How disappointing.

But even the concept, on its own, had potential. Two guys discover they are dating the same woman and inevitably engage in competition. But wait! The two guys happen to be secret agents. This means they can be very elaborate with their surveillance and sabotage techniques. Never mind the fact that such shenanigans would never fly at a job like theirs. We won't think about that. This movie is just suppose to be fun!

Except that it's just stupid. Almost nothing that happens in this movie is even remotely believable, and it's not because it's unrealistic -- plenty of truly unrealistic movies are still believable. It's because the movie fails miserably at selling its preposterous situations. Nothing rings true: not the way the two men approach their jobs (the couple of gunfire/action sequences are kind of jaw-dropping in their insipidness); not even the way either of them approach their courtship of the woman coming between them.

Okay, I got a couple of good laughs out of it. Literally: two. Also, the men play friends who are completely unself-concscious about how deeply they care about each other, which is always nice to see, even if it's used as part of the contrivance for their rivalry. Chelsea Handler gets the best lines, although in a movie like this that doesn't necessarily count for much. Either way, I enjoyed her. Reese Witherspoon's winning personality notwithstanding, Handler's character was genuinely more interesting than any other person in the movie.

This Means War would never have been a great comedy, but it could easily have been better. The primary conflict here is who Reese Witherspoon is going to choose in the end, and in better hands, we might have cared by the time the movie ended. But this movie ends, and it really doesn't matter. It's almost disappointing that she chooses either of them. Why the hell should she? They're both acting like idiot characters in a terrible Hollywood movie. Oh wait.

Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine all make for nice window dressing in the otherwise ridiculous THIS MEANS WAR.


Overall: C+
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