Not too long ago, in my review of The Watch (which has since been removed from the face of this earth), I called the movie formulaic, that it doesn’t give us anything new, that in fact, it gives us very stale material. I remember giving it two stars which is equivalent to an “average” rating, and the only reason I gave it two instead of one is because of its humour. Now This Means War would probably be in the same boat as The Watch, except that it doesn’t have very much humour at all (and it’s way more formulaic).
This is what it’s about: two government agents who end up falling in love with the same girl. They use the technology and skills acquired from their job to not only outsmart each other, but to also keep tabs on the girl. The girl, meanwhile, is hard-pressed to decide who she wants to continue dating. She has to choose between Chris Pine and Tom Hardy. What a decision! And not once does she think it strange that she’s met two gorgeous guys on the exact same day, almost at the exact same time, and they seem to know the perfect words to say at just the right time. Not only are both the guys stupid for going after the same girl, the girl is stupid for not realizing the hole in what she probably thinks is the most fortunate day of her life. Her name’s Lauren and she’s played by Reese Witherspoon, who also played what’s-her-face from Legally Blonde, and so it’s quite ironic that she seems dumber here than in that movie.
There’s also something about a German or eastern European bad guy, named Karl Heinrich (Til Schweiger) who wants revenge on Pine and Hardy for killing his brother. So he travels across the globe to hunt them down and does the most original thing in the history of criminal cinema: he kidnaps Lauren in order to attract their attention. While I have to admit that it works, it really doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to come up with that solution. And if you’re thinking that Karl dies, Lauren ends up with one of our heroes, leaving the other one sad and alone, and that this dejected hero of ours rekindles the love with his ex-wife simply because it’s Hollywood and no character whom we’re supposed to care about can end the movie on a sad note, you’d be absolutely and emphatically correct. It’s so predictable it’s cringe-worthy.
However if you’re able to push aside all the senseless plot strategies and ridiculous scenarios, you’ll find quite a convincing repartee between the two male leads, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). At times they actually made me believe that their friendship is genuine, that they’ve really had years and years of history together, and the very last scene is a testament to this. For the first time, their dialogue with each other seems effortless and natural instead of painfully contrived. Under better circumstances, I would like to see Hardy and Pine work together again.
But hopefully not with director McG. I suppose when you look at McG’s filmography, you can’t be disappointed by the mess he creates here. He made both the Charlie’s Angels films, neither of which was even close to being a success (even though I kind of like the first one), and his visually bombastic style carries through to This Means War. At least there’s some continuity there; that he’s comfortable enough to consistently sacrifice good taste for bad taste. It’s a shame, though, that both Pine and Hardy have to be victims of it.
Best Moment | FDR’s mockery of Tuck after learning that Tuck kissed Lauren on their date (which coincidentally is the worst moment of the movie): “Wow! An incredibly magical kiss with Tuck… oh dear… wonderful!”
Worst Moment | Yes, it’s Tuck’s date with Lauren. He takes her to an empty circus and swings on the trapeze with her? Are you freaking kidding? And it gets better: they don’t just swing romantically together on one trapeze, they actually do tricks on two.