Movie Review: This Means War

3 Feb

I’ll admit I had really low expectations for this movie, so anything short of falling on its face is an improvement over what I was imagining. The movie centers around two CIA agents Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pines), as they battle each other for the love of same girl. Tuck is a sensitive British bloke, looking for someone to spend the rest of his life with. Tuck’s partner and best friend, FDR, is more of a hit it and quit it kind of guy, who doesn’t understand a deep meaningful relationship outside of the one he has with Tuck.  Once the two best friends realize they are both in love with the same girl, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), they use every trick, gadget, and resource available to them to win over her love.

From a traditional “film critic” stand point, This Means War is pretty predictable for the most part. In fact, we guessed the opening sequence and several of the jokes while waiting in line, and perhaps even gave the writers too much credit when we anticipated any kind of major plot twist. Without a lot of depth or back story to it, the result is limited character development, with some characters flaws and baggage being written away with one liners (always reminds me of the conversation in Thank you for Smoking, when Aaron Eckhart and Rob Lowe are discussing smoking in space, and Rob Lowe says “…But it’s an easy fix. One line of dialogue. ‘Thank God we invented the…you know, whatever device.’”). A few of the second tier characters are almost complete mysteries. For instance, why is the bad guy a bad guy? What does he want and why are the two main characters after him? What is Nana’s relation to Tuck and FDR? She seems to have a British accent, but has pictures of FDR all around the house… but Tuck says that he gave her a grandchild… soo… what’s happening here?

But, ultimately, those things don’t matter in this movie, so let’s just ignore that.

Writers Timothy Dowling (Roles Models) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) have done well keeping audiences entertained in the “bromance” genre by utilizing strong leading men to deliver quick wit and heavy sarcasm, while sprinkling in some slapstick. This Means War is no exception to this tried and true process. I felt like the banter between Tuck and FDR was on point in the beginning, and when the friendship was starting to feel the strain from their competition, the addition of some goofy CIA analysts helped carry the audience through some of the slower parts. I found myself laughing out loud only a few times, but the rest of the audience was going craaaazy!

There are a few action scenes, with… ehh… decent fights, which is just barely enough for the average guy to enjoy. It’s not over the top romantic, nor are there bunches of unnecessary men’s bodies/abs all up in your face, so that’s a plus for guys too. Don’t worry ladies, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy clearly hit the gym at least once, if not twice a month, so there is still some eye candy. Also, Chelsea Handler plays Lauren’s good friend Trish, and the women in the audience probably laughed after every single line she delivered. In general, no one is going to be overly impressed or blown away with any part of the movie, but This Means War comes out on Valentines Day (February 14th) so if you have to compromise, you could definitely do worse than.

Kibitzer’s gives This Means War a rating of 3 out of 5. Overall, the movie is entertaining enough and strikes a good balance between action, comedy, and romance.

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