‘This Means War’ Review
A male-oriented rom-com that actually delivers on the laughs.
While the romantic comedy genre is predominantly filled with what we have known to call ‘chick flicks’, it’s only once in a while that a rom-com comes along that is actually male-oriented. ‘This Means War’ is that movie and while it still suffers from the same kind of crippling predictability that plagues the genre in general, surefire chemistry between the cast and shining bromance makes it a hilarious watch all the way through.
The film follows two best friends who are CIA operatives (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy). One fine day, they discover that the girls they have been dating for a while now are the exact same girl (Reese Witherspoon). Here on forth, they set out ground rules for both dating her but as time goes by, they begin to hilariously sabotage each other’s efforts and become rivals in a game of spy vs. spy.
It can’t be said that the film has a good start. In fact, it opens with an action scene that’s too reminiscent of films like ‘Rush Hour’ and doesn’t really impress. Right after it, the film meanders along showing us the daily life of the two operatives and their personal backgrounds without actually being funny. But don’t be fooled with a deflated first act like this one, because the film picks up majorly once the two friends meet Lauren, a down on her luck girl that’s being taunted by her ex. The romantic element of the film is fairly standard and doesn’t do anything particularly impressive, but that’s because the movie is more focused on being a comedy than a romance. Which is great, because that’s where it delivers in spades.
There’s no doubt about it – the bromantic angle of the film is by far the best aspect of it. The relationship between Tom Hardy and Chris Pine as best friends who battle it out for the same girl is so effectively done that it’s hard not to laugh at the proceedings that follow. Clearly the writers and the director had the most fun in this part of the film and so does the audience. Somewhere during the second half, both friends begin to spy on the other one’s date with Lauren and find out ways to sabotage their relationship. Most of the key moments are already in the trailer so it might spoil the surprise for some, but it’s definitely effective in the film and a joy to watch. It’s done in such a playful and easy-going manner with writing that actually delivers the laughs. Key moments include a date night that involves a tranquilizer, Chris Pine’s attempts to impress Lauren with art that goes horribly wrong, and a particular paintball match. Sequences like these are without a doubt a highlight of the film and the things that audiences will definitely remember the most about the movie after it’s over. These alone make this a recommended watch for anyone looking for a funny movie in the cinemas. Humor is where the movie really delivers and it’s the department where it hardly falls flat.
But then again, it’s an ‘action comedy’ so there are action elements involved. Unfortunately, they’re as half-baked as they come. Early on in the film, we are introduced to the arbitrary foreign villain (Till Schweiger) who then disappears for the majority of the film. Ocassionally, we are shown scenes of him plotting something out but they’re just there for a change of pace. Suddenly, he arrives during the finale and the results aren’t really seamless. The entire character of his seems half-assed and in turn makes the finale kind of disposable in the sense that things get resolved too quickly without any real sense of threat. Add to that some choppily edited action scenes that don’t really provide that thrill needed, which is weird considering McG is an action director (Terminator Salvation). Another thing that plagues the film is a constant sense of predictability and it would be interesting if it would have had some unexpected plot points happening. From very early on into the movie, you’re given enough hints to know who will eventually get the girl and you wouldn’t be wrong.
Casting is where the film really shines and Tom Hardy/Chris Pine is a combo that they couldn’t have ever topped. The film had a lot of casting changes from Sam Worthington and Bradley Cooper to Justin Timberlake and Seth Rogen, but nothing could have been a better fit than these guys. Chris Pine perfectly fits that suave ladies man type and embodies the role with a lot of ease and charm. Tom Hardy is already one of the best young actors that there is (and will play Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises), but adds his own flair to his character to hilarious results even though he sometimes feels uncomfortable being in a genre that’s clearly not what he’s known for doing. Their chemistry is electric and every single scene of them together is infectiously funny and they’re at ease with each other, complementing each other’s personalities perfectly. Reese Witherspoon, however, is a strange casting choice because she looks slightly older than both those leads and many people might bash the film for being a chick flick thanks to her casting. But she actually isn’t bad at all and doesn’t do anything extra-ordinary with the role but plays it through adequately. We also have a comic relief female here in the form of Chelsea Handler who brings in some very racy jokes into a PG-13 film and actually ends up being funny, even though the film ends up making fun of her at every opportunity it can.
Though it’s far from being a perfect film, ‘This Means War’ is a lot of fun thanks to the hilarious scenarios it presents in its second half and a great cast that elevates it even further. There’s not enough action or romance here to satisfy audiences coming in to see only those elements, but anyone looking for an actually funny comedy that finally caters to guys too should disregard the bashing and actually give this one a chance.
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