“This Means War”
By MICHAEL WALTERS
“This Means War” is the Somalia conflict of romantic comedies — a boondoggle so fundamentally unsound it probably never should have been attempted in the first place. And Poor Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, and Chris Pine are the P.O.W.’s held captive by this witless script that takes the modern Hollywood bro-mance movie to new lows.
At times, the whole woebegone enterprise resembles a parody of a brain-dead hollywood blockbuster you’d find in the pages of MAD magazine.
Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are two wisecracking CIA agents and best friends. When a covert mission goes awry they find themselves confined to desk duty with time on their hands, so they hit the dating scene. Hardy is the sensitive big galoot with a kid he doesn’t really connect with, while Chris Pine is the cocky ladies man. They both fall for the same woman, product safety tester Reese Witherspoon. So they each marshall millions of dollars of equipment, break any number of privacy laws, and assemble highly illegal covert teams of agents to spy on her and foil each other’s attempts to win her heart.
The right kind of chemistry and charm can overcome more than a few dud jokes. But the three leads never quite gel. Hardy in particular seems sheepishly embarrassed at times to even be starring in such a mess, and Witherspoon just doesn’t make much of an impression. Part of it is her character is so underwritten she can’t find any details to grasp on to. But It doesn’t help she shares half her scenes with comedian Chelsea Handler doing another variation on her oversexed drunk cougar routine. In between, there’s a hyper violent subplot about an international criminal out for revenge who has them both in his sights. The film fails as an action movie, it fails as a romance, and most of all it fails to provide anything remotely resembling laughs.
The film was hyperactively directed by former music video director McG. It’s ultimately kind of sad when you realize the big screen adaptation of “Charlie’s Angels” remains the highlight of his hacky career.