This Means War follows FDR (Chris Pine: Star Trek) and Tuck (Tom Hardy: Inception, Warrior), two CIA agents that find themselves at loggerheads after they both begin dating the same woman, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon: Legally Blonde, Walk the Line), while at the same time being pursued by Heinrich (Til Schweiger: Inglourious Basterds) – a terrorist from a covert mission gone wrong.
If that all sounds remarkably simple, that’s because it is. Yet whether it’s a bad or good thing is still completely up in the air, as while we’re just told Heinrich is a bad guy and expected to believe it, it also means that the film can keep up a speedy pace without getting needlessly bogged down in details. In fact, when it tries to develop a more emotional and serious side the pace and writing seem to suffer, going from stylish and light to lumbering and heavy. Also, with the plot set up in such a way that there’s two “good guys” competing for the same prize, there’s no satisfying way to resolve both character’s plot strands without making one of them seem clearly superior to the other. There’s an attempt to create a happy ending but it appears somewhat tacked on as an afterthought.
There is a lot of good here though; those familiar with the American TV series Chuck that director McG worked on as an executive producer will find this particular blend of action, comedy and romance incredibly familiar. Pine and Hardy, trading insults like old friends, form a believable partnership, at times more so than either manages with Witherspoon. The transformation of Pine from playboy to husband material seems a little instantaneous, but in a film that’s only 90 minutes sacrifices must be made.
It’s interesting to note that throughout the advertising and marketing for This Means War there’s very little mention of the word romance, if not an out and out attempt to avoid it. It’s Marketing 101 of course; boys like explosions, not feelings, but this is still a rom-com – no matter how hard they try to act like they haven’t noticed. While much of the story is entertaining and amusing, it’s somewhat spoilt by a belated attempt to add depth needlessly and an unsatisfying conclusion.
Platform rating: 6/10