“This Means War” is a shining example of how you can put together a good, talented cast and still end up with totally crappy movie. Hollywood is filled with wonderful actresses and actors who blow us away with their acting chops. But I’m a firm believer that you’re only as good as your material. Of course we’ve seen good actors that actually rise above the material but great films are never made on performances alone. Well, I don’t care how good the cast is, there is no actor or actress, living or dead, who could save this monstrosity of a movie.
I love Tom Hardy. He’s one of my favorite actors and he has really made a name for himself over the past few years. I’m also a fan of Reese Witherspoon, an actress who is better than some of her role choices. Why these two, especially Hardy, would sign on for this project is beyond me. McG directs this action/romantic comedy that may not be as awful as his “Charlie’s Angels” films but it’s not far off. It’s said that the script had been shopped around for over ten years and had been turned down by a number of actors during that time. That should have been a bad sign but 20th Century Fox went ahead and okayed this $65 million mess. So we have wasted talent and wasted money. Wonderful.
The story itself is pretty corny. FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are two CIA field agents who are also best of friends. By sheer circumstance the two find out they’re dating the same woman, a beautiful product tester named Lauren (Witherspoon). They make a gentleman’s agreement to let the best man win while never telling Lauren that they know each other. Predictably their feelings for her grow and their friendly competition evolves into a full blown war. They use everything at their disposal including their CIA technology to win the girl’s heart while sabotaging the other’s dates. So the question becomes who will come out on top and will their friendship remained intact. Yawn!
I think somewhere in here lies a decent idea for a movie. Unfortunately things get so preposterous to the point of being hard to watch. Sitting through Hardy, Witherspoon, and Pine struggling to make vapid, dopey, and unfunny material enjoyable is as entertaining as getting a root canal. There isn’t a single funny scene nor is there a single funny line. And in its struggle to get a laugh it’s forced to resort to cheap antics such as crotch shots and animal slapstick. And it doesn’t help that the movie strays so far from reality that it’s impossible to buy into any of the characters or romances.
There are also several other things that for me resulted in one facepalm after another. First, this may be the most idiotic depiction of the Central Intelligence Agency I have ever seen. Tuck and FDR abuse the system for their benefit with seemingly no obstacles or safeguards to stop them. Angela Bassett (in a complete throwaway role) plays their boss but she certainly doesn’t do enough to even notice their open insubordination. We also get a totally uninteresting action plot about an underdeveloped and frankly pointless crime boss (Til Schweiger) who wants revenge on our bosom buddies for killing his thuggish brother. It’s unnecessary and does more to show how poorly conceived the story is.
I could go on. I could mention Lauren’s annoying best fiend Trish (Chelsea Handler) – a stupid and contrived character devoid of any moral value. I could go into more detail about the film’s utter lack of identity. But frankly, I’m just tired of talking about it. “This Means War” pretty much ends up being a disaster. The cast should be given credit for trying to make this work but they should also be questioned as to why they even jumped onboard with this thing. The movie never comes close to hitting the action, romance, and comedy targets it aims for so the audience is left twiddling our thumbs, checking our watches, and waiting for the end. That’s not exactly my idea of enjoying a movie!