Monday, February 20, 2012

This Means War Review

Hello, Internet!  I really wasn't looking forward to This Means War all that much.  I was amused by the trailers but felt that it was going to be a mildly entertaining spy-infused rom-com.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much this film simply entertained me.  There aren't dazzling special effects, a deep, complex story, or surprising twists.  Nay, this film was cliched beyond belief and highly predictable from beginning to end.  But I still had a blast with it.

I really haven't had this much fun watching a film in a very long time.  At its core, TMW is a spy/romantic comedy with a woman (Reese Witherspoon) as the end goal, rather than Russian nuclear launch keys or some other stereotypical spy film MacGuffin.  Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are fairly typical handsome, bad ass CIA agents that happen to be partners.  Hardy's character, Tuck, is a divorced father who has been out of the dating game for quite awhile.  Pine's FDR is the exact opposite; complete ladies-man who apparently can pick up any woman he wants.  Tuck meets Witherspoon's Lauren via online dating.  After their first date Lauren runs into FDR unexpectedly, and despite her initial rejection, ends up going out with FDR as well.  The men find out that they're dating the same woman and engage in a "gentleman's agreement:" nothing comes between their friendship and neither can sleep with her.  There's the setup for your typical romantic comedy.  And that's pretty much all this film aspires to be.  Adding nothing new to the genre, TMW moves through the paces - she dates both, falls in love with both, can't choose between them because they're great in different ways, decides to sex it up with both and ends up picking one in the end.  What is added to the mix to change the formula ever so slightly is the fact that both men work for the CIA, and abuse their power and privileges in wholly entertaining ways (using satellites and UAV's to track one another while on a date, breaking into her house to plant bugs, etc).

What honestly is the strongest aspect of the film are the two male leads.  Chris Pine and Tom Hardy (both Star Trek alums!) have an amazing back-and-forth that is just purely entertaining to watch.  It probably could've been a buddy comedy a la The Other Guys and I would've been perfectly fine with that.  This Means War is one of the funnier films I've seen in awhile.  There's a certain sequence at a paintball range that is brilliantly hysterical to watch.  The charisma of the two leads allows this to be much more entertaining than your average rom-com.

As I stated before the story is nothing to write home about.  Naturally, the film was bookended with an op-gone-wrong that comes back to bite the duo in the ass.  This time around the stereotypical European (German, this time) villain is played by Til Schweiger; most of you probably know him as Hugo Stiglitz from Inglourious Basterds.  He has the thankless job of saying some stuff in German, blowing up some cars, and doing normal bad buy stuff.  And that's a shame because he's pretty awesome and could probably kick tons of ass.  I really wish screenwriters would devote more time to fleshing out the typical villain for these types of action films (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a recent example).

As time goes by I'll probably forget most of what actually happened in This Means War.  What I will not forget are just how awesome Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are as a team and how much energy and charisma they brought to the table.  Beyond that, TMW brings little in terms of actual substance - just pure, unadulterated fun.  And I'm okay with that.

This Means War is a highly entertaining, if not mostly forgettable romantic comedy (with more comedy than actual romance).

Bullet out.

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