Cast: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris
Synopsis: FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are two best friends whom also happen to be agents for the CIA. Tuck is seeking love, and contacts Lauren on an online dating site with the hopes of sparking a romance. On their first meeting, FDR waits in a nearby video store ready for a rescue should it be needed, and meets a girl there himself, not realising that it is the very same woman Tuck just had a fantastic date with.
I am a huge Trekkie, so for me the first impulse to see this film was to see new Kirk (Pine in 2009’s Star Trek) versus the new Picard (Hardy, whom played [Picard’s younger clone in Star Trek: Nemesis). Yet even without this amusing side element, I was highly intrigued by the concept of two master spies fighting over the same girl. Indeed, an article in Empire magazine indicates that director McG saw this film as Ethan Hunt versus James Bond, in that they would both respect the other’s talent for espionage, however they wouldn’t dream of the other getting the upper hand.
Given the concept, one would hope that the result is a fun film, and on this basis, This Means War is a roaring success. Witherspoon is delightful, and she plays the perfect role that would easily attract both of these men. In dating two men at once, she is never two-faced or cruel about it. She is simply a very torn woman, getting advice from a friend whom is living vicariously through her (Handler, absolutely hilarious). Meanwhile, Pine and Hardy also both do some great work. They share a chemistry such that it is easily believable that they are life-long friends. Even in their conflict, one never loses sight of their affection for each other, even when the friendship itself is threatened.
In many respect, it is this acting talent that makes the film. Otherwise, it is an entirely predictable rom-com. Indeed, I predicted the romantic resolution within the first five minutes of the film. Also, the subplot of the enemy which they are pursuing throughout the film is almost an afterthought, designed almost purely to being about a final result in the romance, but having very little weight at all. I was also not a fan of the action sequences. They were filmed so frantically that it was difficult to tell who was who, even in one case of a perp wearing bright red trousers. Yes, fights can be fast and confusing, but that is no excuse for confusing the audience in the first place.
So in the end, this is a film that exists to be little else than a fun diversion. It succeeds in this aim, but a lot of thanks has to be given to the charisma of the leading trio to have obtained this end.
3 stars out of 5