This Does Not Suck
FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are best friends and CIA super agents who would never let anything come between them. That is until they accidentally start dating the same woman and kick off an all-out, espionage fuelled war to prove they have what it takes to make the relationship work.
This Means War comes to screens from curtly titled director McG – most famous for the rather affable if utterly daft Charlie’s Angels films. He’s also responsible for the travesty that is 2009s Terminator Salvation – a film which will not be mentioned again in this review. It’s not the most awe-inspiring pedigree but This Means War is actually a lot of fun.
It’s a carefully calculated cinematic concoction, no doubt using complex algorithms to determine the exact mix of comedy, action and romance necessary to appeal the to the widest gender and age demographics possible.
However cold and mechanical it might be on the page, the formula works, thanks in part to some surprisingly spry writing from Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg; the latter of whom penned Mr And Mrs Smith – a film which bears more than a passing resemblance to This Means War.
An energetic director and a halfway decent script will only go so far, and This Means War his wisely nabbed itself some burgeoning movie stars in its male leads. Tom Hardy is set to have a hell of a year with the arrival of his villainous role as Bane in Batman Sequel The Dark Knight Rises while Pine’s had his course set for the stratosphere since 2009s Star Trek.
They make a compelling pair on screen, matching each other move for move during the physical stuff and providing pleasantly contrasting characters, particularly Hardy’s natural Brit accent. Their disparate approaches to dating are refreshing enough and while the set up might seem petty and juvenile, it’s all handled better than you might expect.
That just leaves Reese Witherspoon as mutual love interest Lauren Scott. She’s no doubt an attractive woman and adds some much needed confirmed star power to the film but, in all honesty, it's tough to buy the fact that both male characters would risk career, life and limb to be with her. Get over that issue and she’s an entertaining enough character and much more self-possessed and canny than many similar examples in other films.
Supporting players are few and far between apart from a villainously scowling Til Schweiger and one Chelsea Handler, who will be the film’s most divisive character. A rather famous American stand-up comedian, Handler exists in the film to basically say crude and inappropriate things at every available opportunity. Her tirades were responsible for the film originally being rated R in the States and you can see why the jokes were deemed unsuitable. She does land her share of laughs; more or less depending on your tastes, but adds a layer of smut to the proceedings which some may find distasteful.
This Means War is patently a date movie but it’s a solid example of the form with three strong leads and some well-honed action scenes that endeavours to simply entertain its audience. You could do far worse this March.