Our Ratings: 3/10
The idea that two best mates / top spies both fall for the same girl at the same time and use all the gadgets and resources at their disposal (with hilarious consequences) to win her heart (at the others expense) is a good idea for a film. With two movie stars like Chris Pine and Tom Hardy on-board you’d be expecting some Lethal Weapon-esque banter, and then if they were to throw into the mix Reese Witherspoon (who is certainly hot enough to turn two undercover operatives’ heads) and can certainly do comedy, as she proved in Sweet Home Alabama and Legally Blonde you’d think you were onto (dare I say it) an action-rom-com winner.
This Means War takes that idea (and those stars) and utterly wastes them. It’s another loud, obvious, obtuse and nasty film from director McG who inflicted Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle on the cinema going public and did more to kill off the Terminator franchise with Terminator Salvation, then Arnie’s election to public office.
This Means War starts with the best spies the CIA has to offer, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy doing what they do best; foiling dastardly plots and being best buddies, before they both fall for the same girl and start competing spy against spy for her. Therefore, the audience is promised, action, comedy and romance. Any three threaded film can thrive if two of the three elements fire on all cylinders, an action film cum-love story is OK, a funny action film is OK and a romantic comedy is OK.
This Means War isn’t OK
We’d forgive poor action, if we had a double whammy of funny and romantic, I’d tolerate so-so romance if the action and comedy kept me entertained and likewise if they forgot the funny, I’d be happy if we had a fine romance and sufficient action. With This Means War the action is poor, the romance as pitiable and the comedy just isn’t funny.
This is one of those films that looked great on paper, with the amount of technological James Bond gizmos available, would have allowed huge amount of comedy with ejector seats, submarine cars or maybe even those latex masks that was so popular in the first three Mission impossible films, with asses to be kicked on the side, and laughs aplenty. However, the surveillance in This Means War just comes across as a bit creepy, as our “heroes” spy and snoop on the girl they’re both allegedly fallen for.
There was even an opportunity for a film to tackle (popular and hotly debated) issues of “ends justifying means” (is all fair in love and war) and it would have been interesting to have a take on super-secret agents taking advantage of their position for their own personal ends, but that was done with considerable more style back in the 90s with True Lies. Instead This Means War goes for the cheap laughs, hoping that the sheer force of the three leads’ personalities will be sufficient, it’s not. The only thing I would say is a recommendation to go see this film is the chance of seeing the trailer for the Dark Knight Rises before this film starts.