MOVIE REVIEW: THIS MEANS WAR
This Means War
Screenplay: Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg
Reese Witherspoon as Lauren
Chris Pine as FDR Foster
Tom Hardy as Tuck
Chelsea Handler as Trish
John Paul Ruttan as Joe
Abigail Spencer as Katie
TRT: 97 minutes, (PG-13) for sexual content, including references; violence and action, and for language
Peacock Feathers: 2 1/2 out of 5
By: Marcus Thorpe
Take off your reality glasses when you walk through the door. This Means War wants you to believe that CIA agents would take time away from an important investigation of a high stakes robbery to help a couple of agents run recon on a woman they are both falling for. They want you to believe that millions of dollars worth of equipment can be used to spy on another guy over a girl? And CIA agents are willing to play along no questions asked. I decided I was going to go for it; I was going to take this for what it was, and hope I had some fun. If you take out the first 30 minutes of the movie, I have to say it won me over, well, won me over enough to not hate it!
These CIA agents are the best of the best, and they have been hand picked to end what looks to be a very dangerous and high-profile gang that is robbing and killing people at will. They get inside information that a score is being set up and they are there to take down the bad guys, their only rule, stay quiet and end this quietly. It all goes out the door when the crew kills then heads out with the money, and the agents are force to shoot or be shot. The main bad guy gets away and the CIA cover is blown. You might be thinking, wait, I thought this was about 2 guys falling in love and competing for the same woman, its coming I promise. After the failed raid, the guys get grounded; they are off the case and doing more desk work than chasing the bad guys. That’s when they start chasing someone else, Lauren. Lauren is a work-a-holic; she loves her job, but hates the thought of having to put herself out there. But after seeing an ex-boyfriend and his progress in life, and a little pushing from her best friend Trish, she decides it is time to get back in the game and she turns to on-line dating. Despite the thousands and thousands of people on-line she finds the likes of Tuck and agrees to a date. They hit it off, and it seems a love match has been made. That is until she meets FDR just minutes later. At first she wants nothing to do with him, but after a little arm twisting she decides to give him a chance. Turns out she likes both of them, there is a catch though, the two are best friends and make a pact to try and win her over, enough to make her forget about the other man. From there it is truly spy vs. spy. The tow sabotage each other’s every move, brining in a little CIA help to make it happen. They eventually turn against each other, until their plans start to unravel, and their friendship is tested as Lauren’s true feelings are tested too.
Maybe it’s just me, but Reese Witherspoon is a tough actress to decide how I feel. I think she plays the girl-next-door role great, and has to a little bit in this film. But I have never really viewed her as the vixen, and they try to pull that off here too. I actually think she pulls it off better than I expected. I have to admit it was a bit strange at first, seeing her stripped down to just about nothing, and maybe it is because you just don’t see her in these types of roles, but she pulls it off just fine. As for her acting itself, she has a really good time analyzing the 2 men in her life with her friend. She is torn, she is funny, and certainly delivers the best performance in the cast. Chris Pine is a pretty boy; there are no two ways about it. But he was amazing in the latest Star Trek film; he was really good in Unstoppable, but a CIA agent. The suit just doesn’t fit here. He comes off as a playboy, a richy rich kind of guy who gets any girl he wants, but behind the blue eyes is a bit of a bore. I don’t think it is all his fault, (see below with the script), but the moments Pine needs to own, it just comes off forced, and a bit of a mess. Tom Hardy on the other hand is really good. He seems much more like the CIA type. A man on edge, who has a nice back story with a son he has fallen away from and an ex-wife who no longer looks at him the same. He is the tough guy, with a sensetive side, but shows he can really pull off the physical requirements of this film, and flash a smile that makes you remember what he brings to the screen, balance. Whether you are a fan of Chelsea Handler or not, you know she has the personality to play a character like this. A foul mouthed, all over the place, jokes from day to night loose cannon. For the first few scenes she was in, I wanted her out, the jokes missed left and right. Then she settles in and really makes you laugh. It seems to be the criteria for this film, everything is just so uneven.
Direction & Writing:
Here is the real failure of this film, writing is a mess. The first 30 minutes will feel like a couple of high school kids got together and threw a script together. Lines like, “Get some deodorant, you stink,“ come to mind. It is really, really bad. I was ready to waive the white flag, to throw in the towel, then, the theme of unevenness picked up. It actually got pretty enjoyable. As the spies started playing against each other, as they started to really sabotage the other during some romantic times with Lauren, it hits its stride. But it comes so late that you might have mentally checked out already. McG is known for the over-the-top fight scenes. Have you seen the Charlie’s Angels movie? But he doesn’t go for the ridiculous action scene until the very end with a car chase that will make you go, “Okay, really?“ Some of the fight scenes are fun, the technology they use and show you is interesting, and the interaction between the 3 works, once the writers get out of the way!
Almost, this one could have almost been a solid action, romance kind of flick. It just can’t stop fighting with itself. It wants to bring in a storyline about the CIA agents and the man vowing to payback the agents for the death of a brother. It kids of wants you to have a great time with the spy vs. spy back and forth between these former best friends. It kind of wants you to get some laughs with the supporting characters pulling people in all sorts of directions. And it kind of wants you to wonder by the end, who is she going to pick and why? If they would have just picked a single direction and gone with it, you might have had a winner. Instead you have a film with an identity crisis, a problem not even the CIA could solve.
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