This Means War Review

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Trailer
  • This Means War film still

Score

The curse of McG strikes again in this largely diabolical action-comedy.

Not even the welcome distraction of Chris Pine’s world-beating forehead projected on a 20-foot screen is enough to leaven the crushingly awful latest from Hollywood’s own mini-monikered dud machine, McG.

With a plot that feels like it consists of equal parts Dumb & Dumber and True Lies, the execrable This Means War sees Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Pine) as two covert CIA spies who wage war against one another in order to win the hand of a woman (Reese Witherspoon) they appear to both be dating. At first they decide to let her choose between them. Yet, both spies eventually decide to employ their various tools of espionage to sabotage the other’s romantic endeavours.

McG’s utter incompetence as a director is once again on full display: his garbled action set pieces comprise of intense close-up of flailing body parts and the, ahem, "humour" is both hideously misjudged and incredibly dull. Tasteful gags about rape and a nasty strain of crass sexual humour are wildly inappropriate, especially for a film with a 12A certificate.

Incidentally, Tom Hardy, an actor better known for his intense psychical screen presence rather than his comic timing, is by far the best thing in this grubby affair. He displays the same roguish charm that we saw (albeit briefly) in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and it’s obvious why he’s currently such a big attraction. And yet, it’s somewhat typical of this lopsided mess that the least funny actor on paper is the one who’s scoring the most laughs.

Huge segments of the film pass by without any reference to the villain of the piece, played by Til Schweiger, whose raison d’etre is to tie the film together and give our hero a common enemy. Chris Pine may have proven himself to be a perfectly serviceable performer as the young Kirk in Star Trek, and Reese Witherspoon may have been scintillating in Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line, though this sleazy, crude and charmless film is one that everyone involved would be advised to stricken from their CV.

Anticipation

The dreaded McG is at the helm! Can trio of more-than-credible actors pull up his slack?

2

Enjoyment

With a laugh quota of just above zero, the presence of the ever-awesome Tom Hardy is the sole saving grace.

2

In Retrospect

No. More. McG. Please.

1
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View 2 comments

BackseatDirector

2 years ago
Given the script and the director, this film should be worse than it is, but impressively the tri-force that is Witherspoon, Hardy & Pine Associates (awesome lawyer firm name, by the way) don’t so much as rescue the film, but certainly rescued me from gouging my eyes out with a plastic ice cream spoon.

Jay

2 years ago
Hi Jack, read your review after seeing This Means War and I was shocked at how different our experiences had been. It by no means is going to stand out as one of my favourite films of all time, maybe not even of this year but I certainly left the cinema feeling satisfied and entertained. While there are surely glaring plot-holes and strangely unexplained concepts (the suit-based trail followed by the ‘baddie’ and Chris Pine living underneath a swimming pool to name a couple) I think the relationship between Pine and Tom Hardy and that between Reece Witherspoon and her ‘sidekick’ definitely made for entertaining viewing.

I’m a big fan of both Pine and Hardy, and while the latter did show some more of that roguish charm you mentioned I did think he had his British-ness dial set to 11, I was half expecting him to offer Reece Witherspoon’s character a cup of tea and a hob nob at one point. Perhaps my fondness for all 3 leads led me to forgive some of the more cringey moments a little too easily, but the chemistry between them all did a great job of distracting me and stopping my head from shaking in disbelief.

Big explosions for the sake of it and unnecessarily long fight scenes aren’t normally my bag but back and forth dialogue, however childish, between charismatic and well matched leads is. I half wonder whether there was another half hour of back story and explanation left on the cutting room floor because it was clear that the entertainment factor would come from the characters bouncing off each other.

Not a well-rounded flick by any means but, in my opinion, an enjoyable romp nonetheless.
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