Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This Means War (2012)

Image: 20th Century Fox

Whether he deserves it or not, McG is one of those directors, like the similarly maligned Brett Ratner or Michael Bay, whose name has become short-hand for loud, crass, Hollywood action rubbish. With the Charlie’s Angels franchise and Terminator: Salvation to his name, it’s fair to say that McG has not earned our trust. However, an action-comedy starring Tom Hardy and Chris Pine seemed like it had the potential to be a fun movie.

Super spies FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) fall for the same girl: workaholic singleton Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). They use their spy skills to compete for her affection and to get inside her private life, as she wrestles with whether it’s ok to date two guys at the same time.

This Means War is what you’d be afraid it would be. It’s crass, the characters are unappealing and it’s generally obnoxious. The fact that the film tries to wink at the fact that what the characters are doing is borderline sociopathic (they’re all lying to each other, FDR and Tuck snoop around her private life, they use video cameras to spy on her, they break into her house at one point) doesn’t make it funny, it makes it creepy and voyeuristic. This isn’t a dark comedy, this is a 12A.

The three lead actors all seem to be going for it, giving it 100%, but they’re giving 100% to a truly awful script. Hardy gets the closest to making his character likeable but he’s hobbled by the script. Meanwhile Pine, who was excellent in Star Trek and the little-seen indie horror Carriers, is unable to break his character out of “obnoxious jackass” as the lady-killer FDR, and Witherspoon is never convincingly interesting, funny, or appealing enough to make you believe they’d go so far. American TV star Chelsea Handler also appears as Witherspoon’s best friend who gets to deliver the standard foul-mouthed sexual advice, none of which is remotely funny.

For an action romantic comedy it’s not funny (I didn’t smile until at least half an hour in), it’s definitely not romantic, and the action is by the numbers. The closest the film comes to getting a laugh is the paintball sequence, which might be funny if you haven’t seen Community. That aside, it’s one of the most aggravating films I’ve had to sit through in a while, and a waste of Hardy and Pine.

Avoid it. If you have to watch a Tom Hardy film, watch Warrior. Not enough people did.



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