Movie Review: This Means War

Starring: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon
Directed By: McG
Written By: Timothy Dowling & Simon Kinberg (screenplay), Timothy Dowling & Marcus Gautesen (story)
20th Century Fox
R; 99 min
2 stars (out of 5)


Let me just begin by pointing out that the spec script for this movie sold waaaay back in May of 1998, and at that time Marcus Gautesen was credited as the writer. Also, the original logline for the movie was something along the lines of it being about two men who share an apartment and rent the third room to this girl, over whom they end up fighting (and destroying half of New York, so I guess maybe they were also superheroes or something?) . . . Clearly a lot of rewriting went on in the decade and more between the script being sold and the movie being filmed and brought into theaters.

Whatever. The end result is what matters, after all, and This Means War is kind of a mess, the epitome of a not-too-bad idea poorly executed. Hardy and Pine actually have decent chemistry and would have done really well in a typical buddy movie. Meanwhile, the fundamental flaws in the story sink the ship.

For one: the wrong guy wins (I won't spoil it for you by saying which it is). I base this on the fact that one of the male leads is mostly honest, despite the underhanded dealings of spying on the girl and sabotaging his cohort's efforts, etc. The other male lead is far more despicable in that he actively fakes an interest in art and stray animals in order to garner the girl's affection. I can't really forgive, then, the fact that the biggest cheater gets the girl.

Then again, the girl isn't much of a prize. She's two-timing, after all, and while I allow some leeway—no one has mentioned being exclusive—she gets on her high horse about the whole thing when she finds out the two guys are friends. Um, sorry? You didn't mention to them that you were dating other guys, but they were supposed to tell you they knew each other? There's a big leap in logic there, in that the girl (her name is Lauren, btw) assumes because the guys were friends they also knew they were both dating the same girl. Maybe I'm atypical and/or don't know a lot about how guys work, but it doesn't necessarily follow in my world that my friends know every twist and turn of my love life.

This romantic farce is laid over a hollow-boned story of how the two CIA agent guys are being hunted by a baddie who's angry about his brother's death. In the most predictable fashion, the boys must save the girl. Then she picks her hero, and the odd man out ends up with a consolation prize (his ex-wife, now much more interested in him when she discovers he's not the travel agent she thought he was).

All in all, though the lead actors have very good chemistry, the movie itself is a loss. It's rote and not even funny in places where it should be. Next time get Tom Hardy and Chris Pine to date each other; it would work out better on all fronts.