This Means War. The previews would lead you to believe that this is an action movie, where two best friends (who are also secret agents) end up falling for the same girl. They end up resorting to high-tech gadgets and espionage to find out her interests and try to win her love.
Let we warn you now. This is not an action movie. This is a straight-up romantic comedy. There’s one chase towards the end of the movie but otherwise don’t be fooled. Now, that’s not to say this isn’t a good movie. It’s a good romantic comedy. It’s funny, it’s witty, has two charming and romantic male leads fighting over one girl… it has it all right?
Here’s my biggest qualm with films like this. We see that both agents are good guys, played by Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable) and Tom Hardy (Inception and the upcoming Dark Knight Rises). They both are fairly romantic, endearing, and charming. Reese Witherspoon is completely the opposite. There is nothing that led me to believe that either of these guys would have called her a second time. She was forgettable. Maybe that is the sign that this is truly a romantic comedy. It’s all about the guys fighting over the girl, with no emphasis on the girl needing to try even a little bit.
So now that we’re in the right mindset, seeing This Means War as a romantic comedy, how does it stack up?
Like I said, both Chris Pine and Tom Hardy do magic on-screen and I’m sure will follow soon in the footsteps of Channing Tatum (though I’m crossing my fingers for that not to happen). Chelsea Handler supports as Witherspoon’s best friend (and probably the core of the comedic throughline). She nails it, acting exactly like she always acts, but she’s really the only outstanding comedic talent, meaning she has a lot of burden to carry. Pine and Hardy are funny in their interactions with each other but Handler is completely solo here but manages to keep the laughter coming.
What doesn’t work?
Okay… Reese Witherspoon. Yes, she’s kind of adorable in that “so flustered and confused” kind of way, but she had zero chemistry with either of the male leads.
Now let’s talk story. This is a predictable tale. The two men know that they’re dating the same girl and make a deal to “not let it affect their friendship.” Also, Reese doesn’t know that they know each other. If you’ve ever seen a movie where any sort of deal between friends is struck, it’s clearly going to be broken. If you’ve ever seen a movie where a huge secret is hidden from the main character, you’ll know that they always find out. If that’s a spoiler, you need to watch more movies.
Like I said in the intro, you’d think that this was an action film (or at least had some awesome action moments). It’s not. And unfortunately that means that our villain (Til Schweiger, most known as Hugo Stiglitz in Inglorious Basterds) is vastly underused and his potential is blown. Til can pull off being an angry and evil man, but we spend so much with Reese trying to “figure out which guy I like!” and we lose track of the villain (and really the whole ‘secret agent’ plotline).
This is a decent romantic comedy. If your boyfriend doesn’t want to see The Vow, recommending This Means War as a compromise might work. After a few minutes though, he’ll likely realize that he’s been had. It’s kind of funny, kind of charming, but lacks any sort of real punch. The storyline is predictable and there is zero emotional impact. Pine and Hardy do their jobs but Reese is exactly the same as always, whether you like that or hate it.