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This Means War

This Means War

Released 2 March 2012
Director McG

Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, John Paul Rutan, Abigail Spencer
Writer(s) Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg

Simon Kinberg, James Lassiter, Robert Simonds, Will Smith
Origin United States
Running Time 97 minutes
Genre Romance, comedy
Rating 15A

This is trash.

McG, the effervescent and enthusiastic director behind such cerebral cinema as Charlie's Angels (2000) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) is putting his mettle to the peddle once again with This Means War, a self-styled romantic comedy with plenty of hot babes, ab-tastic guys, useless explosions and gadgets galore. Fun times.

Best friends and CIA colleagues FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) frequently work in tandem 'in the field' (spy speak for physically apprehending criminals) bringing down the bad guys and saving America from some unmitigated disaster one toothy smile at a time. Yet when they both fall for the same girl, product testing executive Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), tactics drastically change and soon the war they're waging is against themselves.

Sometimes actors have to do movies for money. A necessary evil I imagine, especially when it's tripe such as this. There are a few laughs in This Means War but they are sadly at a minimum and almost negated by the fact that the rest of the action is both insipid and repetitive. You can almost see Hardy wince as he delivers yet another cracking line in the bizarre mockney accent that one can only assume he cultivated to amuse himself. Witherspoon is entirely wasted as the token blonde who is consumed by the fact that she's dating two great guys at the one time and despite endlessly relaying her guilt to her BFF Trish (a hilarious movie debut from Chelsea Handler) she never actually does much about it. It is Pine who shines as the self-obsessed FDR who favours Savile Row suits and air hostesses. Adept at both playing the uber-confident cad as well as the sensitive soul who grew up with his 'Nana' he provides most of the laughs as he delivers the cheese with a healthy serving of gusto.

There is however a side storyline, one which is laughably neglected. Heinrich (Til Schweiger) is an international criminal bent on revenge after Tuck and FDR prevented him from obtaining a weapon of mass destruction, killing his kid brother in the process. Yes, really. Both stories intertwine when Heinrich abducts Lauren and Trish which means FDR and Tuck have to call a truce and combine forces again to save her. As predictable as it may seem, the romance in This Means War turns out to be less about Lauren and more about the enduring bromance between FDR and Tuck.

- Louisa McElwee