If ever there was a clear example of how you can’t please all audiences, This Means War is a strong contender.
If ever there was a clear example of how you can’t please all audiences, This Means War is a strong contender. Attempting, pretty unsuccessfully, to make a rom-com that will hold the male audience’s attention simply resulted in this terrible romantic action comedy becoming fantastically implausible and more than a little baffling. More than just being incoherent though, this is a film which seems to merely be an exercise designed to humiliate a perfectly respectable cast.
A rom-com lacking in any kind of real romance or chemistry was always doomed to fail. The closest we get is quite the sizzling bromance between spy partners FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who somehow manage to pull the relationship off, despite seeming somewhat awkward opposite one another.
Tuck meets Lauren (Witherspoon) online, and somehow five minutes after their first date, she’s flirting with FDR who is conveniently waiting in a video store around the corner; not the most ground-breaking of plot twists. Suddenly their friendship becomes a rather violent rivalry. As they both bid for Lauren’s attention, it begins with a friendly ‘may the best man win’ attitude which very quickly turns into a battle between spies, who illegally utilise as many pieces of surveillance equipment or personnel at their disposal. This starts with amusing attempts at figuring out her interests to pre-empt the perfect date, but by the time Lauren’s entire house is bugged, it all gets a bit creepy.
Amidst all the competitive woo-ing, Tuck and FDR occasionally run into an international assassin, who it’s their job to kill. His appearances are few and far between and often seem like something of an afterthought, to validate their existence within the secret service. It’s typical fodder by the director, McG – much like in his previous efforts with Charlie’s Angels, lackadaisical comedic efforts are interspersed with overly dramatic stunts, explosions and what have you. With more ill-conceived and poorly choreographed action scenes than is really forgivable, it is difficult to shake the feeling that this was shoe-horned together by brute Hollywood force, with little regard for sense or reason.
The blame can’t solely be placed in FDR, Tuck and ridiculous action scenes, however. Witherspoon’s casting as Lauren is almost beyond comprehension. Perhaps a role she may have accepted foolishly pre-Oscar glory, it makes no sense at all to find her in a film with such a flimsy plot-line and terrible script. All that aside, acting like an insecure teenager is not where her strengths lie. She is far too calculated and controlled to sit comfortably in the role. Her on-screen best friend, played by Chelsea Handler, doesn’t add much to the mix either. Instead of bringing the laugh-a-minute performance you could reasonably expect from her, her role is nothing short of trite.
Perhaps it was trying to be Mr and Mrs Smith, which wouldn’t be entirely surprising considering they share a writer, but it missed by a huge margin. Lazy and incoherent, even by rom-com standards this is bland, tired and clumsy. It’ll make your eyes roll more often than it will make you laugh, which is not even remedied by having anything but a predictable ending. Not even so bad it’s good.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy
Release Date: Out Now