For a film about warring colleagues, This Means War has certainly divided our critics. Below are the vastly opposing views of That Film Brat James Haves and That Film Fatale Jordanna Virdee. One gives a ranting review about the cynical nature of the film-making and the other gives a more positive, ‘it’s all in the name of fun’ popcorn-fluff review. Which do you most agree with? I’m happy to present That Film Guy’s first ever REVIEW OFF. FIGHT!!!
This Means War (2012)
This Means War (2012) review by That Film Brat
This Means War was released on February 17th in the US and on March 2nd in the UK. It was directed by McG who has a not exactly marvellous track record. He made his debut with the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels (based on the TV series). He then directed it’s sequel, followed by a film called We Are Marshall which nobody remembers, and the cinematic stain on the Terminator franchise itself, Terminator Salvation.
McG isn’t exactly well regarded in the film industry, and there’s good reason aside from This Means War: he make terrible films. And now we come to This Means War, a romantic action comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pine. I said earlier this year that The Darkest Hour was the worst film of 2012 so far. I would like to revise that statement.
Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are CIA agents (and best friends) sent on a covert undercover mission to capture Heinrich because the CIA have got some intel or something that isn’t explained very well. The mission goes wrong and, instead of firing them for killing 6 people and letting Heinrich escape, the CIA gives them desk jobs. Meanwhile, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) starts an internet dating profile with the help of her friend Trish, just at the same time Tuck does as well. They see each other’s profile’s and set up a date, much to FDR’s dismay, who was against the dating prospect. The date goes well, but soon after, FDR starts talking to Lauren as well, not knowing that she was Tuck’s date. They hit it off and Lauren decides to date him as well. When the two find out about this, instead of confronting Lauren, they decide to go to war with each other over her, hence This Means War. Oh, the hilarity.
Once upon a time, there was a film called Last Action Hero. It attempted to make fun of cheesy action films, but is generally considered a failure. In one scene, one of the characters points out that in the world of the ‘cheesy action film,’ every single major character was attractive. That was in 1993. It was a clichÃ© even then. And guess what? Every single major character in This Means War is attractive. It gives off the message that ˜pretty people should belong with other pretty people and less pretty people are out of the picture’. I certainly thought we were rid of that, but, once again, Hollywood has proved me wrong. While I say they should get some less attractive people in, Reese Witherspoon almost isn’t attractive enough. Sure, she’s very good-looking, but not so that these two rich, charming, and womanising agents would go to war over. I just don’t get Ms. Witherspoon’s raw, unforgiving sex appeal, which is what this character really needed.
The acting in This Means War just dreadful, although to be fair they couldn’t really do much with these two dimensional, cardboard cut-out characters. Chris Pine’s character FDR is a complete jerk that’s impossible to relate to, Tom Hardy is the safe, boring one (you heard right, Tom Hardy, with all the muscles and tattoos, is the safe one), and Lauren is¦¦¦not really much. She’s pretty. That’s about it. The trouble with these characters having a relationship, is that FDR and Tuck constantly abuse CIA resources to find out what she likes and dislikes, even though they have no interest in anything she likes. So a serious relationship would not work because they would realise that they have hardly anything in common.
The actual action sequences in This Means War are mediocre at the very best, and terrible at the worst. They’re clumsily edited, have awful looking CGI, shot with very irritating angles, and over-use slow motion like Uwe Boll on drugs. It advertises itself as a romantic action comedy, though this film is neither romantic, funny, or even has very much action. The villain is completely pointless, and Til Schweiger portrays him horribly. The person who comes off worst, however, is Trish, Lauren’s friend. Not only is she an unlikeable twit that you want to smack in the face, but she constantly goes against Lauren’s wishes and actually becomes a pretty bad friend (and bad mother to her child for that matter). She serves no purpose other than light comic relief (you know, in a comedy).
This Means War is so bad, I feel personally insulted. Insulted by the mindset that told the filmmakers that this was a film that needed to made and seen. It’s unfunny, had bad action scenes (the few that there were), and was so morally inept that it’s a wonder everyone involved with this film didn’t change their name to Alan Smithee (a popular placeholder name filmmakers use when they want to disown a film) so as never to be associated with this abomination of cinema. Stay away from this film, for the love of god. If there’s a film that comes out this year that’s worse than this, 2012 will be remembered as a year for some truly horrific films.
This Means War (2012) review by That Film Fatale
What more could a women want “ two gorgeous men fighting for her affection and attention. This Means War features Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon in the love triangle from hell. Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) work for the CIA in the Los Angeles field office. Living the high and dangerous life, they reap the rewards of their successes. Until one day, Tuck contemplates that one thing is missing “ yes that’s right ladies he wants a women to share the rest of his life with. Money, sex and power obviously don’t please all. Cue a dating advert on television, and the light bulb flicks on.
This Means War’s female element Lauren (Witherspoon) courtesy of her best friend ends up on the same dating website and immediately spots Tuck. The English charm works a treat on the American girl and Lauren soon realises he has potential, not the stalker psycho type that most associate with internet dating. The seed is planted, however a few minutes later best friend and colleague FDR bumps into the beautiful Lauren Scott too.
With the ultimate tools and databases at their disposal both men begin to run background checks on the poor unsuspecting woman. Finding out the nitty gritty and planting hidden cameras around her home; the use of The Patriot Act comes in handy, in the name of national security of course¦ The stakes are high and begin to increase tenfold once the boys realise they are both competing for the same women. Let the wooing commence!
To sum up This Means War in one phrase “ it does what it says on the tin. Romance, action, humour comes packed in one. The audience can sit, relax and enjoy the next hour and a half without having to concentrate on a testing plot. The basic idea that boys meet girl and then try and outdo each other, are a given. Tom Hardy, who has taken on characters like Charles Bronson, and co-starred alongside Leonardo Dicaprio in Inception takes a step back to do something less serious; however still finds the time to flex his muscles. His career along with Chris Pine is on the up and up.
Pine, who has starred alongside Denzel Washington and taken on the lead in Star Trek, also switches to the Rom-Com genre. Something most actor’s do at some point in their career. This Means War had one really noticeable trait, which is that both Pine and Hardy took to their role as best friends and made it real to those watching. The chemistry, humour and competitiveness between the two had the audience laughing.
Reese flits between Hardy and Pine with ease, again proving her likability is one of her strongest assets. Not only does she make the cinema goer think I want to have a friend like her but also illustrates she’s a strong yet quirky female role model. I hope she doesn’t lose her edginess in the years to come.
Who will she pick? You will just have to make that small investment to find out. Well worth a watch, even if it’s to just gawk at the maleness of Hardy and Pine and to laugh at the silliness and sarcasm. Not only do I now want to live in LA “ but I want to become a CIA agent, intrigue, danger, excitement. What more could you ask for?