Film Review: This Means War
● By Justin Buettner
Two spy buddies, FDR (played by Chris Pine) and Tuck (played by Tom Hardy) unknowingly fall for the same girl, Lauren (played by Reese Witherspoon). Once the duo discovers that they are dating the same girl they immediately make a “gentleman’s agreement” and have a competition over who will win Lauren’s heart. As the two fall for Lauren they become more competitive and use the CIA’s resources to help win her heart and derail the other's advances.
The largest problem with This Means War is in the way the story is told. The movie tells the story from every character’s perspective and leaves little for the audience to figure out. There’s no mystery to any of it so the story goes through the motions and as a result it is rather boring. The easy fix would have been to tell the story mainly from either the spy perspective or Lauren’s perspective and let the information slowly unfold and develop that way -- the movie could have had big reveals and perhaps even a surprise or two.
This Means War also suffers from the characters' relationships being woefully underdeveloped. Nothing meaningful happens between either of the spies and Lauren to really convince an audience that these people really are in love. In addition, other than an opening action scene, there’s nothing in the film to really suggest that FDR and Tuck are best friends. The only relationship that sort of works is between Lauren and her best friend Trish (played by Chelsea Handler). Trish has most of the funny lines in the movie and her character works because she is believable, therefore the most relatable.
One has to marvel at how flat this movie was in terms of creativity and energy. True Lies, which had a spy love story plot, was so much more inventive and fun with the action, the drama and the comedy. In comparison it really shows how poorly written This Means War was. The movie had small glimpses of fun and creative sequences, one which included Tuck taking Lauren to a paintball game for a date. However the movie just fell back on conventional scene after conventional scene, and they were so transparent in the lifting from other movies that you could easily say, “Oh yeah, that’s the action scene from Speed!”.
McG, the film’s director, is mostly known for his action movies which include Charlie’s Angels and Terminator Salvation. In this movie he just lazily pieces the movie together. There is nothing that is done horribly bad, but there is nothing inspired to any of it either. That’s despite a fairly strong cast. Tom Hardy is immensely talented, and Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon are both very likable in the right parts.
Some audiences will have fun watching This Means War. It is really a light popcorn movie and if your expectations are set appropriately low it may not be a bad date night choice. It does have enough laughs, enough action, and barely enough romance for both boys and girls to like. I dare you to remember much of what you saw a day after the movie though.
Movies like This Means War: True Lies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Knight and Day
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.