This Means War
Written by Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg, and Marcus Gautesen
Directed by McG
Captain Kirk and Captain Picard’s evil clone battle for the heart of Legally Blonde! Yes, once again Tars has sold out and seen a movie in advance for free. This time, it’s the romantic comedy This Means War, where once again secret spies date hot chicks who know nothing about it, until getting involved in whatever spy stuff is happening in the third act. The twist is there are TWO spy guys who both want the hot chick and compete to be the best of the best of the best. Sure, it’s by the numbers, predictable at points, filled with wacky hijinks, and the action scenes aren’t given enough budge to be memorable in the slightest, but is it good? Meh. There are a few scenes that are hilarious, but the rest of the film is a mess of boring, stupid, or generic. This Means War is never going to top True Lies in the action department, so it shouldn’t even bother. I did not see Knight and Day, but from the reviews the action at least seems continual. This Means War features long sequences of our heroes riding their desks at the office after the brief beginning fight until the last act, so the weight of the film rests entirely on the romantic aspect of the story. That would probably be okay if we hadn’t felt like we’d already seen everything before.
FDR Foster and Tuck are CIA agents who in the opening sequence shoot up some bad guys and end up killing one brother of two, the second escaping and vowing revenge. We don’t know much about this guy except he’s bad, so forget about him. Tuck is a British CIA agent (whaaa?) who is divorced with a young son, while FDR is a playboy who has sex with anything that moves and anything that might move if it’s placed on a slope. As FDR’s wife is only hinted at dating again, but a boyfriend never presents himself as a threat, I can see the future clearer than the time I shoved crystal balls in my eyes and was banned from that Wiccan store downtown. Little do they know how many million$ I won from the lottery!
Reese Witherspoon plays some product tester guru named Lauren who keeps running into her idiot ex-boyfriend and his new fiancee, prompting her to complain to the typical romantic comedy perverted best friend character (Trish – played by Chelsea Handler, who is awesome and really shows how little energy Reese brings to This Means War) who signs Reese up for online dating. The same online dating Tuck turns to, getting them a date. As FDR is hanging in the neighborhood as backup in case things go sour, he inadvertently begins hitting on Reese right after the date ends, not knowing she’s who Tuck went to see. Soon we’re going all Betty and Veronica on this mo-fo, with the two guys laying down ground rules they begin to ignore as they compete for her affection.
The competition and bickering scenes are my favorite parts (besides Chelsea Handler), as they also are full of energy and have some good quips. As the two agents use CIA equipment to spy on Reese, they overhear her complaints about them and set off to make bigger and better dates. They pair engage in sabotage against each others dates as well, some of which is awesome. Eventually, Reese is forced to make a decision and the non-dead brother returns to cause trouble. Can our heroes repair their relationship with each other, save the girl, defeat the bad guy, and somehow fix their love triangle? Of course not, everyone dies.
Just kidding, why wouldn’t there be a happy ending? We are going by the numbers here!
The moral of the film is claimed to be that Reese shouldn’t choose the best guy, but the guy who makes her be the best person. That sounds cool and all, but no where in the film does she even talk about being made a better person and this advice is thrown out from nowhere in the third act. As she picks the character who lied to her more and whose only attribute for making her be a better person is to tell her to stop thinking about mistakes, it seems like she just picked whoever told her what she wanted to hear. The other guy is screwed over, and though things look like he’ll have a happy ending, there is a dig as the final joke that shows nice guys never win. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I don’t like her choice, and think the real choice should have just been neither of them. She should totally date the evil terrorist guy.
It wasn’t until the final credits rolled that I realized that this was directed by McG, which suddenly explained the random fast cars, the generic action, and the ridiculous computer displays. Writers involved worked on Knight and Day (Timothy Dowling) and Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Simon Kinberg), both films with similar plot elements. Not that that is suspicious in the slightest…
Rosemary Harris (Aunt May from Spiderman) make me realize how awesomely perfect her casting was in the Raimi Spiderman films. Likewise, Angela Bassett’s complete waste here reminded me how she was completely wasted in Green Lantern. It’s not hard to not waste Angela Bassett, just let her kick someone’s butt, problem solved.
In conclusion, the best parts are Chelsea Handler, and Tom Hardy and Chris Pine’s chemistry together and efforts to foil the other. Though this isn’t enough to carry the film, it is enough to prevent it from being a total waste of time. Though if you got better things to do like tasting different varieties of Cheerios or smelling blended teas, no sense in going out of your way, and just wait until it hits 10000 reruns on cable in two years.
Rated 4/10 (computer pics, civil rights violations are hilarious!, so is destruction of millions in government property!, will this gas tank explode?)
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