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Review: This Means War

This Means War
02.14.2012
4 10

PLOT: CIA operatives FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are regulated to desk duty after a firefight with a terrorist leaves a pile of dead bodies and bad press for the agency. Now free to think about their love lives, the lonely Tuck gives internet dating a try, where he meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) - a lonely thirty-something businesswoman just out of a bad relationship. The two have instant chemistry, and Tuck falls hard. Only problem- FDR has also met, and fell for Lauren, and now the two best friends are pitted against each other in a race to win her heart.

REVIEW: THIS MEANS WAR is the reason why filmgoers should be wary anytime they hear someone use the term “high-concept”. Certainly, THIS MEANS WAR fits the bill, with Hollywood suits probably thinking the movie going public would eat up a story about two action heroes falling for the same girl. Basically, it’s the SPY VS. SPY film we never got.


However, just because the concept is ambitious and sounds good when boiled down to a single phrase (two spies fall for the same girl) doesn’t mean the film is any good. Obviously everyone involved was so in love with their “high concept” that they figured that would be enough to get people’s butts into seats. Too bad they forgot to make a good movie.

THIS MEANS WAR is a totally brain dead mega budget studio comedy, which is maybe louder than your average Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl comedy, but just as one-note. Somehow, director McG, who’s working from a script that counts Simon Kinberg among the writers- with this borrowing more than a little from his own MR & MRS SMITH , managed to draft three dynamic leads to star in the film, but this is far below what their talents warrant.


First, there are our two heroes, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, each of whom seems to be on the brink of stardom. The brooding Hardy seems like a particularly odd choice for a romantic comedy, and while he’s more relaxed in the role than I thought he would be- it’s jarring seeing him a film like this. What’s hilarious is that the tattooed, muscled Hardy is supposed to be playing the sensitive, shy one- but the role is an odd fit to say the least. Pine is probably less of a stretch for a movie like this, and the role isn’t all that different from similar parts he played in films like THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2, and JUST MY LUCK- albeit with more gunfights.

Both Pine and Hardy are fine here, and gamely do their best, without either giving off the impression that they’re phoning it in (they don’t suffer from Gerard Butler-itis). Both are just about to hit it big, and it seems like they’re aware of that fact, so they try hard- and that certainly keeps THIS MEANS WAR from being more painful than it already is. Both have one or two good scenes, with a standout being a funny scene where Hardy takes Witherspoon paintballing, and uses his CIA skills to decimate a group of twelve year olds. It’s a stupid scene, but also one of the few funny ones in the film.


Witherspoon is probably the one playing the closest to her comfort zone, but I think it’s obvious to anyone that’s been watching her career that she’s served better in higher-brow fare like WALK THE LINE, or WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, than stuff like this. However, it’s still better than HOW DO YOU KNOW (hard to be worse). I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Witherspoon, and she looks phenomenal, and does her best to play a likable character to not make it too much of a stretch that Pine and Hardy could be fighting over her.

Being a shitty rom-com, we also get the token “best-friend/comic relief”, here played by Chelsea Handler. Handler’s funny on her talk show, but she’s horribly served by the patchwork script (the work of at least three writers). Every time she opens her mouth to spout off a line that’s supposed to be funny will have you cringe in embarrassment.

Being a McG film, you can safely assume that THIS MEANS WAR has its share of explosions and gunfights, with the action here being very much in line with his CHARLIE’S ANGELS films. This means the action scenes are loud, stupid, and cartoonish. The final car chase is one of the dumbest action scenes I’ve seen in a while, with our heroes leveling a poorly disguised Vancouver.

Another problem with THIS MEANS WAR was that it all felt too familiar, like I had seen it all before. And sure enough, I have- back when it was called TRUE LIES, and it was, ya know- good. Yup, three writers, a multi-million dollar director, and a huge budget, and all they come up with is a movie that’s effectively the second act of TRUE LIES (when Arnie suspects Jamie Lee Curtis is cheating on him) stretched to ninety minutes, only not as funny.

Suffice to say, I really ended up disliking THIS MEANS WAR, with it really being one of the worst recent examples of big-budget, filmmaking-by-committee. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen done (better) before. While all three lead actors are usually worth watching, even they can’t save this idiotic comedy-actioner.

Extra Tidbit: Reese and Pine's characters meet in a packed video store. When's the last time you saw a packed video store? Are there any even left in the states? In Canada there are barely any, to the extent that they're trying to disguise a retail HMV as a rental shop here.
Source: JoBlo.com

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+1
1:07PM on 02/14/2012
Wasn't a big fan of this movie. It really felt uncomfortable at times watching Hardy and even Pines be so campy. I laughed occasionally, but the very beginning and the end were painfully bad. Really glad I didn't pay for it. If I could nit-pick one thing: Pines' character nicknamed FDR? I was so massively confused, I thought it was a stupid cover name that was getting used for just the beginning rather than his actual name. Just one of the sillier choices they made that distracted and didn't
Wasn't a big fan of this movie. It really felt uncomfortable at times watching Hardy and even Pines be so campy. I laughed occasionally, but the very beginning and the end were painfully bad. Really glad I didn't pay for it. If I could nit-pick one thing: Pines' character nicknamed FDR? I was so massively confused, I thought it was a stupid cover name that was getting used for just the beginning rather than his actual name. Just one of the sillier choices they made that distracted and didn't work for me.
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9:34AM on 02/14/2012
Fuckin McG
Fuckin McG
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8:47AM on 02/14/2012

Misinformed

Your following comment, "What’s hilarious is that the tattooed, muscled Hardy is supposed to be playing the sensitive, shy one- but the role is an odd fit to say the least," is made without much knowledge of Tom Hardy. The reason he was chosen for Warrior was exactly because he imbued these qualities, the ability to be soft and sensitive, while obviously being a bad a$#. I'm going to see this film, simply to spend two hours with Tom Hardy.
Your following comment, "What’s hilarious is that the tattooed, muscled Hardy is supposed to be playing the sensitive, shy one- but the role is an odd fit to say the least," is made without much knowledge of Tom Hardy. The reason he was chosen for Warrior was exactly because he imbued these qualities, the ability to be soft and sensitive, while obviously being a bad a$#. I'm going to see this film, simply to spend two hours with Tom Hardy.
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+10
4:00AM on 02/14/2012
Hardy and Pine should have run the other way when they saw McG's name attached to this. The man has yet to direct a film that can truly be called good. Even the Charlie's Angels movies were forgettable. The trailer made this look as bad as this review makes it out to be and, unlike everyone else it seems, I think that this being a McG film DOES have a lot to say about it. I truly was quite surprised to see Tom Hardy in this. I would think having been in one of Christopher Nolan's most
Hardy and Pine should have run the other way when they saw McG's name attached to this. The man has yet to direct a film that can truly be called good. Even the Charlie's Angels movies were forgettable. The trailer made this look as bad as this review makes it out to be and, unlike everyone else it seems, I think that this being a McG film DOES have a lot to say about it. I truly was quite surprised to see Tom Hardy in this. I would think having been in one of Christopher Nolan's most successful films, being in what is arguably one of the directors most anticipated films ever, and having been in one of 2011's most critically well received films meant that you stayed away from crap like this. Apparently, I thought wrong.
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2:20AM on 02/14/2012

wow

So basically this review came down to this.

All the main actors/actresses were great... But this is a McG film so I'm gonna bash the hell out of it.

Whatever, I'll just turn my brain off while watching the film like I do with all of the Transformers movies and enjoy the ride.
So basically this review came down to this.

All the main actors/actresses were great... But this is a McG film so I'm gonna bash the hell out of it.

Whatever, I'll just turn my brain off while watching the film like I do with all of the Transformers movies and enjoy the ride.
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9:36AM on 02/14/2012
YEAH TRANSFORMERS AWESOME -this comment brought to you by Mountain Dew "Do the Dew"
YEAH TRANSFORMERS AWESOME -this comment brought to you by Mountain Dew "Do the Dew"
2:11AM on 02/14/2012
I dont give a damn, Im gonna see it just for the fun factor
I dont give a damn, Im gonna see it just for the fun factor
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1:41AM on 02/14/2012
WOW Mr. Bumbray i have never seen a reviewer who is more biased than you are. You really drop the ball when its obvious you do not like a film & especially it's director. It seems that just because McG directed this movie you most certainly would not have given it a positive review. When you enjoy a film your reviews are spot on, but when ya hate a film, they are stinkers.
WOW Mr. Bumbray i have never seen a reviewer who is more biased than you are. You really drop the ball when its obvious you do not like a film & especially it's director. It seems that just because McG directed this movie you most certainly would not have given it a positive review. When you enjoy a film your reviews are spot on, but when ya hate a film, they are stinkers.
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11:57AM on 02/14/2012
What are you talking about? That's what reviews are.
Is he suppose to give a glowing review to a film he didn't like?
What are you talking about? That's what reviews are.
Is he suppose to give a glowing review to a film he didn't like?
1:21PM on 02/14/2012
philalva77- you write the same comment everytime I give a negative review. Do you understand what a review is? It's an OPINION! I can't just like everything I see. I mean, c'mon- do you just like everything that comes out?
philalva77- you write the same comment everytime I give a negative review. Do you understand what a review is? It's an OPINION! I can't just like everything I see. I mean, c'mon- do you just like everything that comes out?
6:19PM on 02/14/2012
Idk my problem with his reviews are it's very predictable. I'm not sure why but I can always see Bumbray's name at the top of a review and predict whether he'll like it or not, almost to the exact rating sometimes.
Idk my problem with his reviews are it's very predictable. I'm not sure why but I can always see Bumbray's name at the top of a review and predict whether he'll like it or not, almost to the exact rating sometimes.
1:11AM on 02/14/2012
The video store thing is hilarious. To be fair this script has been bouncing around hollywood for over ten years so it makes sense that a video store meet-cute would be in a draft, but it is shocking that they kept it in.
The video store thing is hilarious. To be fair this script has been bouncing around hollywood for over ten years so it makes sense that a video store meet-cute would be in a draft, but it is shocking that they kept it in.
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+6
12:59AM on 02/14/2012
Fuck.... Im off to see this in 2 hours. Got the tickets in my hand. Oh well, at least Ive got 2 hours to get some drinks into me and hope that helps!
Fuck.... Im off to see this in 2 hours. Got the tickets in my hand. Oh well, at least Ive got 2 hours to get some drinks into me and hope that helps!
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