Well it is mid-February and already my hope is that This Means War is the worst movie I will sit through all year. It’s a waste of talent and utterly senseless . . . which would be fine if it happened to be funny as advertised. Instead, the screenwriters — Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg — and its director haphazardly manage to mash-up a spy thriller, an action film, a buddy film, and a romantic comedy into something that is none of those but a slap to the face of the viewers.
This amalgam of so much that offers so little is directed by McG, whose first two theatrical films were the treats “Charlie’s Angels” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” I make mention of this because both of those flicks had more and better action sequences and were more reasonable than this, his fifth outing (that says plenty). This Means War does, however, star three very attractive people in Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon. Their job is to continue to look attractive, sparkly eyes and all, in each progressively more absurd scene. Chelsea Handler is tossed in as Witherspoon’s married friend, who doles out horrible and trashy dating advice in what sounds like a lousy stand-up comedy routine. Angela Bassett, a normally fine actress, is totally out of place in her couple of scenes as the always-angry boss. Til Schweiger (“Inglourious Basterds”) is totally wasted as the generic bad guy.
The razor thin plot that they find themselves in basically bookends several lackluster action sequences that are brain defyingly ridiculous. It chronicles the goings-on of two best buddy, co-worker CIA spies, FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), who find themselves competing (and using every covert trick in the book) for the affections of the same girl, Lauren (Witherspoon), who is taking advice from her nasty, jealous friend. How things progress is very mechanical; made all the more tedious as it all enfolds with cartoony action, no suspense, minimal comedy and absolutely no logical sense. One of the minor details that was really irritating was a scene that takes place in a giant video store where FDR and Lauren are debating the hierarchy of Hitchcock films. In and of itself, that would be fine, hell, it may very well be provoking. But this banal conversation takes place in front of a display of multiple copies of Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes.” Multiple copies (probably more copies than Amazon has in stock). In a video store (as if they’re around nowadays).
Throw in an escalating series of outlandish dates (coupled with outlandish attempts at spoiling them), a multi-million dollar bachelor pad for Pine (what is the salary for a 30 yr old spy?), and buddy dialogue that makes the repartee between Riggs and Murtaugh or Tango and Cash sound like the Lincoln-Douglas debates and it’s easy to see common sense was not staple for the script.
As best as I can surmise, This Means War is supposed to be an action flick for chicks. There is some gunfire, lots of muscles, plenty of fluff and childlike banter coming from two attractive spies who both love the attractive woman who is desperate to be loved. Women, however, can do, and deserve, so much better.