Film Review: This Means War (2012)

Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) cannot find a boyfriend. This is only the first problem with the film. The same goes best friends and partners in spydom; for the annoyingly named FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). As a result of their single desperation, Lauren and Tuck turn to FindDate.com and serendipitously find each other. Only trouble is FDR also meets Lauren thus creating an awkward Bermuda love triangle. Holy narrative conflict smokes Batman!

Perhaps normal friends would concede defeat upon discovery of dating the same girl, but where’s the cinematic tension in that scenario? Instead they both pursue Witherspoon with the latest in CIA technology to help assist in their courting.

Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are both bearably charming in their own respective ways but both also annoy. Pine seems more familiar in the role of a macho romantic lead, whereas Hardy seems much more awkward and strange. Not that he is without talent, but his casting seems little to do with the film, and more inspired as his career ascent towards Hollywood superstardom.

Reese Witherspoon is bouncy and exhibits a bit of spunk over the usual generic cries of “Woe is me, what shall I do?” That said, she is nothing special and does make you wonder where her career has gone since the Oscar win for Walk the Line.

In the role of the stereotypically quirky best friend, Chelsea Handler appears in what is clearly a stretch for the talk show queen (I’m guessing Fox executives didn’t miss Handler’s book Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea). Thankfully though, Handler is given some snappy one liners that detract from the nauseating ensuing three way.

All in all, This Means War is not terrible. Despite the chronically generic storyline and plot developments, it successfully meets its intentions in being a standard action/romance flick for the perennial cinema going audience.

Perhaps the most generic plot development that director McG the writers Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg and Marcus Gautesen and sees a pursuing car chase with a stereotypically vengeful Russian edge dangerously towards an incomplete stretch of highway. Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because it’s been in every single clichéd action film.

This Means War is the perfect concoction for date night fodder at the multiplexes. It has romance and girl jokes about feelings for the ladies, and several scenes of car chases, guns ablaze and objects blowing up for the guys. Now that’s entertainment?

This Means War opens theatrically in Australia on February 14 through Fox.

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