Mixed Tape Reviews: This Means War

Feb 28th, 2012 | By | Category: Entertainment
This Means War Mixed Tape Review

Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Pine

I recently worked with a guy who would always complain about the romantic comedies he was constantly “forced” to watch with his girlfriend. When I asked him why he was ‘forced’ to see these movies starring the likes of Katherine Heigl, Kate Hudson or the late Brittany Murphy, he said it was because this was the only way he could get her to watch action movies, stupid comedies and other types of movies that he enjoyed. Note that while he said this, he looked at me like I was an alien from outer space for not knowing the answer to my own question.

For the sake of disclosure, I want to point out that my wife and I never trade off on our movie selections. When we go to the movie theater, we do so with the intent of watching something we both actually want to see. Fortunately for me, my wife has excellent taste. It’s for this reason that we thought the romantic action bromance comedy This Means War was a ridiculous waste of time and talent. The time belonged to us, and the talent belonged to Tom Hardy, one of our favorite actors since we first took notice of him in the 2009 film “Bronson.”

“This Means War” seems almost genetically engineered for people like my former co-worker. It has elements intended to woo male audiences like explosions and the guy who played the young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine). It also has elements intended to woo female audiences like a romantic plot centered around deception and a manipulative female protagonist played by Reese Witherspoon, the reigning queen of so-called “Chick Flicks.” It’s a movie built by committee, conceived as a marketing ploy to lure both halves of genuinely incompatible couples into a darkened auditorium on their regularly scheduled date nights.

Hardy and Pine play a couple of CIA agents who are also total “bros.” They are such bros that they spend more time hugging and saying I love you to each other than they do to Witherspoon, a woman who somehow finds herself lucky to be accidentally dating both of these men at the same time. When Hardy and Pine find out they are dating the same woman, rather than cede to the ‘bros before hos’ law of the Bro Bible (I’m sure some idiot out there wrote one), they enter the typical gentlemen’s agreement or ‘bet’ scenario that all lame romantic comedies have been coasting off of since the late ‘90s. I’m aware that Shakespeare would often incorporate similar competitions in his comedies, but the Bard also remembered to include interesting characters – an asset sorely lacking from this movie.

We get a fairly routine montage of one-upmanship between Hardy and Pine (which is slightly amped by the fact that they are both armed and well-trained killers); the standard reveal where Witherspoon has the audacity to feel used and deceived by her suitors, despite the fact that she was using and deceiving them as well; and a last act confrontation with a stock villain of European origins (played by the underused Til Schweiger of “Inglourious Basterds” fame).

Director McG proves yet again he is competent at staging action scenes, and includes a cheeky moment where Witherspoon shakes her rump remiscent to the one he filmed with Cameron Diaz in the second Charlie’s Angels film. Lacking the wit or creativity to really make this genre mash up sizzle, all McG can do here is solidify his career as one of the most whelming (as opposed to overwhelming or underwhelming) filmmakers working today.

If couples require films like “This Means War” in order to enjoy an evening at the movies together, I would suggest that both partners re-evaluate their relationship. There’s probably a good chance that they really do not like each other. Otherwise, they should look for other activities they can share with each other like hiking, scrapbooking or couples counseling.

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